Interbull developments, global genetic trends and role in the era of genomics

  • J Philipsson


Effects of animal breeding have historically been boosted at certain times by important technical discoveries or theoretical developments. The globalization of cattle breeding has been possible due to the possibility of using frozen semen of individual bulls across the world. Which are the best bulls to be used got a boost by the development of the mixed-model procedures (BLUP) supported by enormously enhanced computer capacity. The development of MACE enabled the opportunity to evaluate practically all AI bulls across countries. And now we are in the midst of a technical break-through where technology developments including sequencing of the cattle genome combined with use of quantitative genetic methods form the basis for genomic selection. During the past 20 years an enormous development has taken place in the major dairy breeds. Interbull has played an important role for this development as facilitator through delivery of genetic evaluations to be used across countries, so that all bulls are ranked correctly for the predominant environment of each country or region – a win-win situation for both importers and exporters of semen. The achievements, so far reaching 80 populations representing six breeds in 30 countries and more than 40 traits, have been supported by the collaborative research conducted by Interbull Center and its partners attracting top scientists around the world. The regularly arranged open seminars and technical workshops have laid the basis for a spirit of cooperation and freely sharing of research results and practical experiences. In the era of genomics experiences already show an increased need of cooperation and sharing of experiences for the industry to fully benefit from adoption of this new fast developing technology. Additional activities at the Interbull Center might include sharing of information on genotyped or sequenced bulls, estimation of SNP effects, and an increasingly important task of monitoring genetic trends, genetic diversity and inbreeding. But more than that, phenotypic information on production and functional traits for present and future breeding objectives are needed for international evaluations also in future in order to fully benefit from adoption of the new technologies.