In mammals 'maleness', i.e. the presence of testes, is thought to be controlled by a single gene on the Y chromosome. Recently, a candidate gene termed the SRY (sex-determining region Y) gene has been located. If the SRY gene is the gene causing maleness then a transgenic male with the SRY gene on an autosome would produce a greater proportion of male offspring than a normal male. This would be advantageous in situations where male offspring are more valuable than females. Such transgenic males have a reduced probability of propagating their genotype and an effort has to be made to avoid their extinction. This is at the cost of genetic progress which must be made to enable the transgenics to remain competitive with normal males. In a simulated beef cattle breeding scheme if half of the annual matings were made to transgenics then after 15 years of selection the transgenic males fell the equivalent of 2.6 years of selection behind males in a traditional herd. If all matings were made to transgenic they fell over 9 years behind. Selection for lean food conversion ratio was considered as an example. After 15 years of selection the gain in biological efficiency from more male offspring outweighed the loss from reduced genetic progress only when more than 0.5 of the bulls used in the breeding scheme were normal males. In practice, the difficulty of maintaining a small population of transgenic males along with other costs not included in the calculations suggest that breeding schemes in beef cattle with an SRY transgene would not be practicable without further technology.
- beef cattle sex ratio selection sry transgenic animals