How Do Cloned Animals Contribute to the Gene Pool?

Posted by on Wednesday, December 20th, 2017 in General

Over the years there have been critics that claim cloned animals do not contribute to genetic diversity. Let me invite you into our world, where cloned animals do contribute to the gene pool in meaningful and unique ways.

Let’s start with the basics. Cloning, is simply making an identical twin, that is born at a later place in time.  This means that a cloned animal will be a genetic match to the genetic donor that provided the tissue sample.  This also means that a cloned animal will have the same genomic analysis, if that particular breed uses genomics as a measure of the ability of that calf to produce specific traits.  The fundamental value of cloning technology is that it allows you to make an identical copy of that once in a lifetime, elite individual.

Allow me to share three examples where cloning does contribute to the gene pool in unique ways.

  • So what if a young Holstein bull, that was in the top 1% of the GTPI (genomic total performance index), died young…before any semen had been produced on the bull, before he was bred to any high indexing heifers or cows?  Previously, his genetics would have been lost forever and his genetics would not have contributed to the gene pool. Today, with cloning technology, we can salvage his genetics by producing a Genetic Preservation or cell line. We can then produce one or more genetic twins to that young bull.  They will in turn carry on his legacy and through the semen production of this clones, his genetics will contribute to the breeding pool that will produce additional genomic animals or even higher value in the future.
  • So what if a champion steer, exhibits all the characteristics that you want in a good bull…carcass superiority, marbling ability, etc.?  Due to the castration of the original animal, his genetics would have been lost forever.  Today, with cloning technology we can salvage the steer’s genetics by producing a Genetic Preservation or cell line. We can then produce one or more genetic twins that will be born as intact bulls, because the castration of the original animal occurred after the birth event.  The cloned bull will carry the legacy and the genetics of a truly great steer through his semen production. The cloned bull will contribute to the production of exceptional feedlot cattle.
  • So what if a phenomenal heifer has to have a C section in order to deliver her first calf?  Not only will she milk less effectively, but it will be difficult to get her bred again…shortening her reproductive contribution to the herd and the breed.  She may not work in ET or IVF due to scar tissue.  Today, with cloning technology we can salvage her genetics through the production of a Genetic preservation or cell line. We can then produce one or more genetic twins that will be born as young fertile heifers, with no long term consequences from a C section.  They will carry on the milking ability and reproductive contributions of a truly great heifer.

In all of these cases, a genotype that would have been lost forever, has been saved through cloning, and will now make great contributions to the gene pool.  For more information on Genetic Preservation and Cloning, simply call ViaGen at 1-888-8ViaGen or view our website at www.viagen.com.

By: Diane

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