Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Bovine Study Shows the Important Role of Genetics

This article summarizes a study led by Yana Safonova in which black angus cows were studied as well as their responses to the Bovine Respiratory Disease vaccine. BRD is the leading cause of natural death for cows, and the medicine is extremely expensive, causing the cattle industry to spend about $900 million dollars a year. Vaccination of the cows would help decrease these expenses greatly. The question that the researchers wanted to answer was why are certain black angus cows reacting differently to the same vaccine. Using a computational tool, the research team analyzed sequenced data from the antibodies black angus cows produced as a result of the vaccine.

The researched found that there unique structure of the antibodies produced by the vaccine, and the how efficient the vaccine was is determined prior to an immune response. Because the team’s method can reveal these genetic markers. This way, cattle producers can use this information to selectively breed cows that are less susceptible to this disease based on their genetic information. This is the largest immunogenetics study across any species to date. Research projects similar to this will allow scientists to find certain patterns in the human genome that can determine a person's reaction to a vaccine prior to receiving it. 

This finding was extremely fascinating, and after reading it, I immediately began to think about how the methods used during this study could impact human beings that are genetically predisposed to certain diseases. With the new strains of COVID 19 and the increased need for vaccines, this type of study would work for a plethora of subjects. The vaccination process can be properly examined across different genomes. More information pertaining to this study can be found here.


  1. I never knew that cows suffer from that disease. I read a similar study about how a disease killed deer and they used the same methods as this study in order to selective breed for certain traits to help rid of the illness. It’s amazing to see that the genetics research has shown that certain genes are related to the animal’s disease risk and helping breed those animals that have lower risk can help get rid of the disease altogether.

  2. I am glad to know there is more research being done into vaccination for cows. Since we rely on livestock as sustenance, we owe it to them to improve their quality of life. The idea of breeding as a way to reduce risk is a great idea and can probably be applied to many areas of agriculture instead of the potentially harmful alternatives.

  3. This variation in symptom severity remind me about the diverse range of immune responses to the COVID vaccination. I myself had very minor symptoms that went away within hours. However, my poor mother was sick like a dog for almost two days.