Scientists identify TB-resistant genes

Scientists have identified genetic traits in cattle that could allow farmers to breed livestock with increased resistance to bovine tuberculosis (bTB).

The research, led by the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, compared the genes of TB-infected and disease-free Holstein Friesian cows.

They were able to identify a number of genetic signatures associated with TB resistance in the cows that remained unaffected.

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Researchers at the institute said the latest finding is significant as it sheds further light on whether it might be possible to improve TB control through selective breeding.

It is hoped the research will help farmers to more effectively control TB in cattle.

Lead researcher Prof Glass said: “Differences between cattle in their genes is not the only factor in determining whether the animal will get bovine TB or not; various environmental factors as well as differences in the TB bacteria may also affect susceptibility.

“If we can choose animals with better genotypes for TB resistance, then we can apply this information in new breeding programmes alongside other control strategies.”

The next stage of the study will now focus on refining genomic predictors of resistance.