About the Project
The growing awareness of the importance of health and fertility traits in dairy cattle breeding has led to an increased interest in crossbreeding. In a 10 years study in the University of Minnesota, USA, has demonstrated that heterosis from crossbreeding in dairy cattle was most influential for traits related to fertility, health, and survival; with crossbreds having 17 to 23% lower cost for health treatment, 153 more days in the herd and 9 to 13% higher daily profit for compared to their pure Holstein herd-mates. This increased health benefits has resulted in a marked increase in the population of crossbred cattle in the USA over the period 1990 to 2018 with cross bred cows accounting for 5.2% of the dairy cow population in 2018. The increasing number of cross-bred cows in the UK dairy population led to the introduction of an across breed conventional genetic evaluation in about 2012. More recently, increasing number dairy farmers such as the Fast-Breeders group that operate tight block calving herds in a very extensive grazing environment are focusing exclusively on crossbreeding as the small crossbred cow is deemed more efficient. However, current genomic selection approaches in the UK have not included cross-bred cows implying no genomic breeding values are available for cross bred animals. This has hindered more farmers from adopting cross breeding; therefore the implementation of genomic prediction system for cross-breeds will fill a huge gap and meet the needs of many farmers. Therefore this proposal aims examine the implementation of recent advances in methods in genomic prediction for the application of cross bred dairy cattle in the UK. Using the phenotypic and genotype data of Fast-Breeders and national UK dairy database, this project will specifically address (i) estimation of the breed proportions in the cross bred population from admixture analyses and their application for an initial genomic breeding values for cross-bred animals(ii) determine the breed of origin SNP allele of genotypes of cross bred animals (iii) explore genomic approaches that accounts for breed origin of alleles both in genomic prediction, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and Bayesian methods (iv) Design mating schemes that optimise cross-breeding using SNPs effects for alleles from different breeds. The student will be well trained in bioinformatics techniques such as admixture analysis, genomic prediction methods, GWAS , Bayesian methods and design of mating systems.
Applicants should download the required forms from http://www.eastscotbiodtp.ac.uk/how-apply-0 and send the following documents to [Email Address Removed]:
a. EASTBIO Application Form
b. EASTBIO DTP Equality Form
d. Academic transcripts (a minimum of an upper second class or first class honours degree or equivalent is required for PhD study
e. Two references should be provided by the deadline using the EASTBIO reference form (http://www.eastscotbiodtp.ac.uk/how-apply-0). Please advise your referees to return the reference form to [Email Address Removed].
f. If you are nominated by the supervisor(s) of the EASTBIO PhD project you wish to apply for, they will provide a Supervisor Support Statement.
This 4 year PhD project is part of a competition funded by EASTBIO BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership http://www.eastscotbiodtp.ac.uk/how-apply-0. This opportunity is open to UK and International students and provides funding to cover stipend and UK level tuition (Please state if your institution will provide funding to cover the difference in fees). Please refer to UKRI website and Annex B of the UKRI Training Grant Terms and Conditions for full eligibility criteria.