New advances in cloning and their potential impact on genetic variation in livestock

John Woolliams, I. Wilmut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Cloning has advanced through the recent demonstrations that it is feasible to produce, in principle and with significant effort, an unlimited number of individuals of identical genotype from differentiated cell lines that have been frozen and thawed. These advances have been based upon understanding the importance of interactions between the stage of the cell cycle of both the oocyte and donor cell for the success of the nuclear transfer. Whilst the impact of the biological advance is immense for biomedical applications, the significance is less clear for livestock breeding. In our view the scientific issues for breeding programmes lie in whether clones can increase genetic progress without a cost to biodiversity. Biodiversity within a species may be categorized as: (i) between-breed variation; (ii) genetic variation among parents within breeds; (iiii) genetic variation among individuals within a farm; and (iv) allelic variation within an individual. In the face of a vapid global decline in breed diversity, cloning, in particular cloning of adults, may be an important route to protect biodiversity since it may allow far more genetic variation to be made available for new breed development in the future than is practicable at present. For variation among parents, the judicious use of clones may give significantly faster rates of progress without increasing the rate of loss of genetic variation and furthermore can help improve traits associated with health and welfare which are at present less tractable than, say, milk yield. Local diversity within a farm may be greatly affected if cloning is utilized to disseminate genetic progress widely and move answers are required on the importance of genetic variation within any one locality either in buffering diseases or ameliorating other management problems. Experience from clonal forestry can provide some indications but now there are models capable of answering this question directly in livestock. Allelic variation within individuals per se is not generally advantageous but at loci where it is identified to be beneficial, the use of cloning may exploit it more widely.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)245-256
Number of pages12
JournalAnimal science
Volume68
Publication statusPublished - 1999

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • biodiversity cloning genetic variation inbreeding risk dairy-cattle nuclear transfer multibreed comparisons embryo-transfer bovine embryos british cattle sheep embryos growth-rate food-intake cell-cycle

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