Please visit GIFT Consortium website at: www.gift.ku.dk
Professor Haja Kadarmideen (Main applicant / PI in Denmark) has received DKK 6.1 million from the Programme Commission on Health, Food and Welfare of the Danish Council for Strategic Research and the Brazilian PI, Associate Professor Marcelo F. G. Nogueira, has received the equivalent of DKK 6.0 million from the State of São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) for this 4-year research collaboration. The project is entitled, “GIFT: Genomic Improvement of Fertilization Traits in Danish and Brazilian Cattle”. A brief summary of this project (in English) is as follows:
Reproductive technologies are important tools in cattle breeding, with artificial insemination (AI) being used for more than 50 years and embryo transfer (ET) used since the mid-1980’s. More recently, ET of in vitro produced (IVP) embryos derived from ultrasound-guided collection of oocytes (Ovum Pick-Up, OPU) from superior donor cows has been introduced. This technique is being used increasingly worldwide, but there is a need for improved understanding of the biology as well as the associated quantitative genetics in order to exploit the full benefits. The aims of the GIFT project are to form a bridge between embryo technology and systems genetics/genomics in order to address complex biological mechanisms for OPU-IVP traits as well as heifer pregnancy rates, find key genes and genetic markers, and develop whole genomic selection programs for identification of superior donors and recipients. The GIFT partners (Brazil and Denmark) represent in collaboration a unique set of competencies which synergistically support each other with strong basic genomics and embryological experience, extensive practical use of the techniques, access to both beef and dairy cattle and two breeds (Bos Taurus and Bos Indicus) as well as two environments (tropical and temperate climates). Hence, the GIFT project allows for a novel assessment of biological and genetic dimensions of the OPU-IVP technology in a contemporary breeding context.
In Brazil, extensive field trials based on genetic/genomic and phenotyping experiments in 1500 Nellore cattle stationed at five herds (ranches) for genomewide association studies (GWAS) as well as deep embryological and transcriptomics studies are planned. In Denmark, extensive embryo technology validations, quantitative genetic analyses, transcriptomics and systems biology investigations on cattle fertilization traits are planned. Vitrogen® will provide access to several thousands of data records on OPU-IVP sessions along with some genomic information.Overall, the GIFT project combines two practical embryo and genomic technologies to make a direct contribution to the quality and quantity of meat and milk produced from cattle and used for human consumption, thus contributing to global food security.
The GIFT project involves 7 partners (from 4 universities and 2 international Danish and Brazilian reproductive /biotechnology companies). The project funds many full-time postdocs and PhDs as well as part-time technical staff and administrative positions in Denmark and in Brazil. The partner groups/institutions are:
- Quantitative and Systems Genetics (QSG) group, Department of Veterinary Clinical and Animal Sciences, University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark (Professor Haja Kadarmideen, Principal investigator,leading the Danish part of the GIFT consortium)
- Anatomy / Stem Cell group, Department of Veterinary Clinical and Animal Sciences, University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark (Professor Poul Hyttel)
- Reproductive Biology group, Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University (AU), Denmark (Professor Henrik Callesen)
- Animal Reproduction group, Institute of Bioscience (IB), University of São Paulo State (UNESP), São Paulo, Brazil (Associate Professor Marcelo F.G.Nogueira, Professor Ciro M. Barros, leading the Brazilian part of the GIFT consortium)
- College of Animal Science and Food Engineering, University of São Paulo (USP), Campuses of Pirassununga and São Paulo, SP, Brazil (Associate Professor Flávio V. Meirelles, Professor José B.S. Ferraz)
- Vitrogen®, Cravinhos, Brazil (Dr. Yeda F. Watanabe) and the associated supporting partner is VikingGenetics (Denmark, Finland and Sweden).