Genetic Engineering in Animal Agriculture


Welcome to the talking biotech. The weekly podcast but agriculture and medicine with an emphasis on biotechnology. And the good things we can do for people and the planet. My name's kevin polka. I'm your podcast host and western plant biology coming to you from archer florida on the exotic farm and we're going to talk about animal. Agriculture and how biotechnology has or maybe hasn't been able to improve animal agriculture. And we're speaking with dr mark west susan. He's a professor at texas a and m. veterinary medicine in the area. Physiology and pharmacology. So i've been trying to get him on the podcast for about five years and here he is finally so welcome to the podcast dr west. Houston thank you so much can. Yeah this is really cool. Because you're you've been Not just involved in your research work at in your research directly with animal genetic engineering and working with different projects but you also have a very good sense of what's happening. Globally in animal agriculture. So i really wanted to get an idea you know. What is the current state of genetic engineering across livestock and livestock pertaining to the four legged. Ones you know. Maybe not chickens. But we've covered a few on the podcast. But what are the current agricultural animals that are being improved with genetic engineering techniques. Kevin so i would say that almost every livestock species that you can imagine or think of including chickens as you mentioned but if you think about sheep goats cattle pigs and even to some extent horses Our genetic modifications that scientists are looking into to benefit either the animals themselves and or the products that they produce for us. So it's it's it certainly has a lot of potential and there's a lot of work going on in in with all all the different species. Will you named a few different species there. And as a general rule. How is transformation. Don is it the same from goats sheeps pigs horses or is there. Something unique about you know. Different wants the general methodology that she used for genetic modification animals or gene. Editing is essentially the same. And i would say that with the new technologies that we have involving crisper cast meghan. Nuclear aces It can be as simple as collecting an embryo at the one cell stage injecting it with the necessary molecular tools and then Transferring that embryo back into a recipient female to produce genetically modified animal. If the if the modification that you're looking for is more complicated or say you want a very specific promoter on it you want it. The gened only expressed or the the outcome of the of the modification to only show up in a particular tissue. Say milk or something like that then sometimes the modification. The complication of it would require that you would take a cell line Genetically modified the cell line and then do some screening and genetically modified again until you got the proper cell line then use that with nuclear transplantation cloning to produce the desired genotype that looking for but essentially it's the technologies are the same across species. The differences come up a really in controlling the reproductive cycle is the old the older technologies that have been around for a long time I think that that tend to sometimes throw a monkey wrench into the projects. In i worked for instance i work quite a bit on For years on dogs and if anyone wanted to Genetically modified dog is kind of. we're not talking livestock species but the reproductive tract is quite a bit are the reproductive cycle is a lot different and so they can become a lot more challenging. Where do you get the ovaries. Where do you get the embryos how synchronized different things like that. Okay so i. I see that. It's probably kind of the same across most of our barnyard animals. But so let's start with sheep. I really don't know much about sheep i haven't heard much about it. But what approaches are current. What is the problem in sheep first of all and what's being done to solve that problem. There's really no problem with sheep. I think there's a left. Oh i would call it a leftover kind of thought that she difficult to work with because dali was one of the You know first sheep that was cloned and if you look at sheep from a standpoint of clowning they are. They do seem to be very difficult. And i don't think anyone really knows why they seem to be a species. That for some reason The efficiency of cloning doesn't work it. It just doesn't work very well if you compare that. For instance the cattle. Are you compared it to go to some of the other species is just. It's hard to clownish eat. But if you if you get out of the cloning aspect and you say i'm just wanna do genetic editing. We've we've done a lot of genetic editing and cheapen. It works very well. We we use the process. As i said earlier where we just collect embryos at the one cell stage we take them into the laboratory inject our crisper cast to do the modification. We wanted walk back over to the unit. The surgery unit transform back into the cheapen and produced a large number of genetically edited a shape. Genetics are in my lab. The we were looking at was to create a bu- a model for bone disease. And i want to say we obtain like seventy five percent

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