A Helping Hand from DNA
National Animal Germplasm Program supports animal health research.
by Laura McGinnis
Inbreeding. Stress. Disease. It’s hard out there for a herd. Modern livestock face many challenges, and DNA has become an increasingly popular tool for addressing them. While not exactly a panacea, an animal’s genetic heritage can provide a lot of information — and knowing more about their genes can help researchers and producers find better management techniques to keep animals healthy and happy.
The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) currently maintains the world’s largest, most diverse collection of livestock genetic resources — the National Animal Germplasm Program (NAGP). Housed at the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation at Fort Collins, Colo., and led by geneticist Harvey Blackburn, the NAGP preserves genetic material such as semen, embryos, ova and DNA for agricultural animals.
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