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Dr. Jamie Courter is your Mizzou Beef Genetics Extension Specialist

By Jared E. Decker Many of you have probably noticed that things have been a lot less active on the A Steak in Genomics™   blog, but you probably haven't known why. In January 2021, I was named the Wurdack Chair in Animal Genomics at Mizzou, and I now focus on research, with a little bit of teaching. I no longer have an extension appointment. But, with exciting news, the blog is about to become a lot more active! Jamie Courter began as the new MU Extension state beef genetics specialist in the Division of Animal Sciences on September 1, 2023. I have known Jamie for several years, meeting her at BIF when she was a Masters student. I have been impressed by Jamie in my interactions with her since that time.  Dr. Courter and I have been working closely together the last 6 weeks, and I am excited to work together to serve the beef industry for years to come! Jamie holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science from North Carolina State University and earned a master's degree in animal

Directional Selection and Local Adaptation in Beef Cattle

My group has posted a new preprint on bioRxiv
You can check it out here: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.11.988121
Warning, it is written for a technical audience, not in cowboy terms.

So- what are the take-home messages for farmers and ranchers?
  • We can identify the DNA variants responding to your selection decisions.
  • You tend to select cattle that have better immune systems.
  • Hormone production in the ovaries is under selection in Red Angus. Makes sense based on the breed's focus on fertility.
  • Muscle development is under selection in Gelbvieh. 
  • We can identify the DNA variants that lead to cattle adapted to their environment
  • Blood vessel tightening or loosening is under environmental selection.
  • The brain and neuron signaling is an important part of environmental adaptation.
  • We are losing local adaptation in beef cattle.
Check out this Twitter thread to see figures from the paper.

Regarding the last point, we can fix the loss of local adaptation through the use of ecoregion-specific EPDs and EPDs to environmental traits like hair shedding and PAP.

Special thanks to USDA-NIFA for funding to support this work and for the Red Angus Association of America, American Simmental Association, and American Gelbvieh Association for collaborating with us!


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