Cobb, Roslin partner to advance broiler genetics

Cobb-Vantress and The Roslin Institute begin three-year, $1m research collaboration into avian disease resistance, genomics.

A three-year research agreement between Cobb-Vantress Inc., a global industry leader in poultry genetics, and the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute will facilitate collaboration on avian disease resistance, genome analysis and genome preservation.

Cobb is putting almost $1 million into avian research programs at The Roslin Institute to identify innovative ways to improve avian health as well as developing unique technologies to understand and preserve the current and heritage poultry genomes.

The investment creates a strategic partnership between Cobb and The Roslin Institute that leverages each entity's strengths.

Mitch Abrahamsen, Cobb vice president of research and development, said, "This research partnership provides a wonderful opportunity for Cobb to continue a close collaborative relationship with The Roslin Institute and their new National Avian Research Facility (NARF).

"The continued financial investments by The Roslin Institute in people and infrastructure demonstrate their commitment to making significant contributions toward improving poultry health and capitalizing on the opportunities afforded by the ever expanding understanding of the chicken genome," he added.

The National Avian Research Facility recently opened a state-of-the-art facility with its focus in poultry research.

One of the applications of this joint partnership is an effort to develop new technology enabling pedigree or heritage lines to be maintained without the need to physically maintain the bird stock. In addition, several projects will investigate DNA markers in the genome, targeting some of the more difficult to select for traits such as avian immunity, disease tolerance and disease resistance.

"These are exciting new areas which we hope will lead to major breakthroughs in avian health and preservation," Dr. Christine Daugherty, chief technology officer at Cobb, said. "Cobb has an extensive gene pool and to be able to better understand the poultry genome will be critical to meeting future demands for poultry products. We're always striving to breed more robust chickens that will withstand disease and environmental challenges. We're looking for birds with greater immunity to diseases or with the ability to tolerate disease without affecting their performance.”

The collaboration will support research by graduate students and is for an initial three years, with potential for renewal. The agreement with The Roslin Institute, which receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, is one of more than 30 research projects that Cobb has been supporting in 18 different universities across the globe over the past five years.

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