20 August 2015. The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC), with partners in the UK, Colombia and Kenya bring together their leading expertise in forage breeding for animal nutrition, cutting-edge genomics and phenomics technologies to accelerate the improvement of Brachiaria, a vital livestock feed crop in central Africa and Latin America.
International expert skill-sets in genomics and bioinformatics enhance the capacity to breed improved forages for Africa. More than 80 per cent of the world’s agricultural land is for grazing to support the ever increasing demand for meat and milk for an expanding and growing urban population while boosting the income of rural families. The scarcity of grass feed is a worrying constraint standing in the way of this livestock productivity.
“Our scientists are working towards a common goal of increasing sustainable agriculture, and collaborations like this allow us to exploit our combined expertise to contribute to the important issue of food security. This project will deepen our interactions with international centres in Africa and Latin America, and improve forage breeding for livestock production.” Project lead, Sarah Ayling, Crop Genomics and Diversity Group Leader at TGAC
Some Brachiaria species have been cultivated as forage grasses, providing nutrition for ruminants
across the globe. As well as nutrition, the grasses have desirable genetic characteristics linked to drought and pest-resistance and adaptation to poor and acidic soils. Over the past 25 years, several African species of Brachiaria have been used commercially as forages in the tropics; the most widely sown forage plant in tropical America.