Animal Scientists Jon Beever, Harris Lewin, Sandra Rodriguez-Zas, and Larry Schook implemented genomic technologies resulting from the bovine genome project. These efforts have led to the identification of eight genes associated with the occurrence of congenital defects in beef cattle and the development of diagnostic tests for those genes that have prevented millions of dollars in potential losses to the beef industry.
Other animal sciences faculty members have used genomics to improve feed efficiency in growing cattle to increase profits for producers. Now researchers are using genomics to find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cattle.
U of I scientists were also instrumental in the sequencing of the pig genome, allowing researchers to pinpoint genes that are useful to pork production or are involved in immunity or other important physiological processes in the pig. The research will enhance breeding practices, offer insight into diseases that afflict pigs (and, sometimes humans) and will assist in efforts to preserve the global heritage of rare, endangered, and wild pigs. It is also important for the study of human health because pigs are very similar to humans in their physiology, behavior, and nutritional needs.