Scientists have found genes that may be responsible for the resistance of animals to cold weather. The results of the new study will help breeding animals in harsh climates, such as in northern Siberia and the Arctic.
Researchers from the Institute of Animal Husbandry and the Institute of Cytology and Genetics (ICG) of the Russian Academy of Sciences, together with British scientists, have identified genes in cattle that may be responsible for resistance to cold. Bazarbay Inerbaev, head of the laboratory for beef cattle breeding at the specialized institute, explained that the genetic mechanisms that allow some animals to adapt to low temperatures, and others to lose most of their weight in the cold, remained unclear for scientists.
The fact is that initially, about 50 years ago, cattle breeds arrived in Siberia from temperate zones. Namely from the territories of England and Canada, where temperatures are not as low as in northern Siberia.
Scientists began their work on the search for candidate genes by selecting 200 cows each in the Altai Territory. They were in 30-degree frost when the animals were put on special sensors and monitored how the body temperature changed. In cold-resistant individuals, the temperature did not fluctuate; in more frost-prone individuals, it dropped. The goal of the scientists was to identify animals with genes for resistance to extremely low temperatures. These genes are called candidate genes. In total, the measurements were carried out for about two weeks. For the experiment, cows of the Yakut aboriginal breed were used, which easily tolerate frosts up to 50-60 ° C. The study also involved Hereford cattle. Previously, it was imported to Russia and is now cultivated in the Altai Territory in southern Siberia.
It is believed that these animals tolerate cold well due to their wool with a lot of down hair. It acts as insulation. However, despite such protection from frost in Yakutia and other northern regions, these individuals do not take root well. A number of candidate genes have been identified in the animals native to Yakutia, which are similar to those in Hereford cows. In the future, scientists plan to monitor the presence of these genes in future generations of animals, assessing how they tolerate frost.