The Genomic Reference Resource for African Cattle is an initiative of the dairy genomics program of the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health and African partners, and with support from African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR).

The cost of genomics study remains a limiting factor for researches towards the genetic improvement of indigenous African cattle. A collated set of sequences and genotype information on cattle breeds in Africa is currently not available. Such a resource will be useful for the design and application of genomics tools for the acceleration of local breed improvement and for the conservation of indigenous genetic resources in Sub Saharan Africa

The Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH) supports research programs that improve livestock-based livelihoods in the tropics. CTLGH is a strategic alliance of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), The Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). It includes research projects aiming to understand the diversity of indigenous tropical livestock and to unravel the genetic control of their adaptation to environmental challenges and production traits. For cattle, it is being achieved through the Genomic Reference Resource for African Cattle (GRRFAC) initiative, in collaboration with African national partners, and with support from the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), that provided some linkages to national partners.

Our goal is to facilitate the generation of high coverage whole genome sequences of a diverse representative indigenous African cattle breeds. This will include data already available in public databases, data with private research groups (where access is granted) and the generation of new data, especially breeds that have never been genotyped or sequenced.

The immediate objectives of GRRFAC include

  1. to collate a set of whole-genome sequences and genotype information on indigenous African cattle
  2. to identify most informative SNPs in for designing SNP arrays tailored to characterize African cattle diversity and for use in marker-assisted breeding improvement
  3. to identify genome regions and associated candidate genes underpinning adaptation/resilience and production traits under African agro-ecologies and production systems,
  4. to contribute the building-up of a pan-genome reference assembly for African cattle, and
  5.  to build bioinformatics capacity among African research institutions and scientists in the field of livestock genomics.

This ambitious effort is benefiting from the support of several institutions besides CTLGH and the African Agricultural Research Centers. In particular, the University of Nottingham (UK), ILRI - CAAS Joint Laboratory on Livestock and Forage Genetic Resources (China), Seoul National University (South Korea) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).

This initiative is made possible by funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock.