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Les pâturages : des milieux très diversifiés où l’herbe consommée est toujours sous la dépendance des mêmes facteurs : conduite de l’éleveur (chargement, durée d’accès,...), type de prairie (espèce, stade, saison...), caractéristiques des animaux (race, âge, poids, production,...), autres aliments distribués (fourrages, concentrés, minéraux...).Race bovine normande, race bovine holstein.. © INRA, BERNARD Odile

The 1000 bull genomes project: sequencing legendary breeds

In the context of an international consortium, scientists from INRA and UNCEIA contributed to an international consortium who have sequenced the genome of 234 bulls have sequenced the complete genomes of 234 bulls from the Holstein-Fresian, Simmental and Jersey breeds. An important milestone in an ambitious project that aims to obtain the genomes of 1000 bulls, this work published in Nature Genetics on 14 July 2014 opens new breeding prospects for the genomic selection of animals.

Updated on 10/24/2014
Published on 07/15/2014

For 10,000 years, cattle have been helping and feeding humans; during the past 200 years, different breeds have become specialised by selecting aptitudes for different production systems.  However, in recent years, selection that was initially based on phenotypic and genealogical information has become genomic.  It is increasingly being based on genomic data that can predict the value of breeding animals and select those whose progeny will be best suited to production systems that are undergoing environmental and notably climatic changes throughout the world, in a context of dietary transitions.  Thanks to technological revolutions in this field, the complete genomic sequencing of a significant number of individuals in the context of a major international consortium is now the method of choice to describe DNA variability at the scale of the species.

INRA is playing an active role in a global consortium that aims to sequence 1000 bull genomes.  The consortium has just published an article in the prestigious journal Nature Genetics (14 July 2014) that marks an important milestone in this project.  The strategy employed was to sequence the most important ancestors that have modelled the Holstein, Simmental and Jersey breeds, thus providing a very complete view of current variability in these populations. For example, the technique has enabled the rapid identification of mutations that have modulated milk production aptitudes or genetic abnormalities in these breeds, responsible for embryonic mortality or congenital skeletal malformations.  More generally, it opens the way towards a systematic, large-scale determination of the mutations responsible for the genetic variability of traits.  Identifying these mutations will enable a more efficient selection of traits designed to achieve sustainable production, independently of their heritability or ease of measurement.

In France, this research project was carried out by INRA and UNCEIA (National Union of Livestock Breeding and Insemination Cooperatives) and benefited from financial support from ANR and Apisgene.

Scientific contact(s):

  • Didier BOICHARD Joint Research Unit for Animal Genetics and Integrative Biology
Associated Division(s):
Animal Genetics
Associated Centre(s):


Daetwyler H.D., Capitan A., Pausch H., Stothard P.,  Van Binsbergen R., Brøndum R.F., Liao X., Djari A., Rodriguez S.C., Grohs C., Esquerré D., Bouchez O., Rossignol M.N., Klopp C., Rocha D., Fritz S., Eggen A., Bowman P., Coote D., Chamberlain A.J., Anderson C., Van Tassell C.P., Hulsegge I., Goddard M.E., Guldbrandtsen B., Lund M.S., Veerkamp R.F., Boichard D., Fries R.,  Hayes B.J. 2014. Whole-genome sequencing of 234 bulls facilitates mapping of monogenic and complex traits in cattle. Nature Genetics, 46, 858-867, DOI: 10.1038/ng.3034