Division of Animal Genetics

The major research thrust in initial years of National Institute of Animal Genetics (NIAG) was on characterization of indigenous genetic resources using cytogenetics and biochemical polymorphism studies. The initial research projects encompassed studies of chromosomal profile of cattle, buffalo, sheep, goat, pigs and camel. Since cattle, buffalo and goats had relatively more information available, so emphasis was laid on species, like camel, pigs, equines and poultry. The cytogenetic studies also encompassed research on chromosomal abnormalities in relation to abnormal phenotypes and reproductive disorders. The work on Immunogenetic and biochemical genetics included characterization of cattle erythrocyte antigens and their applications, preparing typing reagents and to build a national blood center. The other major studies included antigens of bovine major histocompatibility complex and genetic humoral immune response, bovine cytokines and major genes of phagocytic functions.

The first Quniquennial Review Team (QRT) of NIAG and ICAR-NBAGR recommended the merger of NIAG and ICAR-NBAGR to form ICAR- National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources and all the scientists working in the fields of cytogenetics, immunogenetics, and molecular genetics became the part of Animal Genetics Division which was established in the year 1996. In the year 1997, a major change in the focus of the divisional research activities was observed, with very little emphasis on cytogenetics. Most of the research projects in-compassed work on molecular characterization and biodiversity analysis of native breeds of cattle, sheep, poultry, pigs and other livestock species using molecular markers especially microsatellites. To understand the nature of mitochondrial DNA diversity, maternal lineages and evolutionary relationships amongst native breeds, efforts were also made using mitochondrial D-loop marker. Significant work was also continued in the field of immunology especially on bovine interleukins in Indian cattle.

In recent years, sizeable progress has been made in sequence characterization and identification of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) at several candidate gene loci influencing trait of functional importance viz; milk yield/ composition, wool, meat, growth and development, adaptive, thermotolerance, disease resistance in our native breeds from different livestock species. Presently, out of several research projects that are underway, many of them are externally funded from Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and National Agricultural Innovative Programme (NAIP) in area of Sheep genomics, Cattle genomics, Buffalo Genomics and Immuogenetics. Such efforts are expected to provide better understanding of our native genetic resource and would also provide insight of the complex genome of our native species for their better utilization.