EuroGenomics, the Largest Reference Population for the Holstein Breed
EuroGenomics is a consortium which is now made up of 7 Holstein organisations (selection companies and farmers' associations) and their scientific partners in 9 European countries.
At the time of the world's first genomic assessments, and on the initiative of Allice's Board of Directors the 4 founders met for the first time in Paris at the end of March 2009, Germany (DHV-VIT), France (ALLICE-INRA), the Netherlands (CRV-Liège University), Sweden, Denmark and Finland (VikingGenetics - Aarhus University). These 4 founders initiated the creation of a reference Holstein population, which was unique in size.
The clear objective was to increase the reliability of genomic indices in the interest of farmers in each of the partner organisations.
Initially, each of the participating countries reciprocally shared 4,000 genotypings of bulls progeny tested for 35 characteristics. Genotypings from the Illumina 50K cattle chip are now routinely exchanged once a year by the scientific teams responsible for national assessments.
In 2011 and 2012 Spain (CONAFE – INIA) and Poland (Genomika Polska- Universities of Warmia-Mazury-Olsztyn and Wroclaw) joined the EuroGenomics consortium. Today the European reference population includes more than 30,000 tested bulls. It is the largest reference population in the world.
EuroGenomics, Confidence in Innovative Selection Tools
The size of the reference populationcreated in this way immediately made possible a global increase of 10% in average accuracy (CD - Discretization Comparison) in genomic assessments for all characteristics in the various countries.
The development of tools devotedto innovative genomic selection. By sharing knowledge and development methods the EuroGenomics scientific teams have been among the first in the world to develop imputation tools (statistical approach aimed at predicting missing data between two genotyping results on different chips). Amongst other things this expertise has made possible the first exchanges between countries that did not use the same chips, then between the 54K and the HD and finally now between the LD and the 54K.
This experience proves the ability of representatives of professional organisations and scientific experts in Europeto share the back-officeof genomic selection confidently, i.e. reliable, efficient selection tools for European farmers.
Of course participation in the development of new chips has been sponsored by Allice and INRA, but all in the name of EuroGenomics. This has made it possible to integrate international consortia such as those for the HD and LD chips.
The partners of EuroGenomics are also agreed on the development of a new customised LD chip, produced by Illumina, the EuroG 10K chip.
Specific markers have been unanimously chosen to provide better quality imputation and to make new tests available to farmers (parentage, detection of genetic anomalies). The list of these markers is regularly updated. We have now reached the 5th version.
Eurogenomics, for the Benefit of all French and European Breeds
Although EuroGenomics is a Holstein selection company consortium, many tools have been beneficial for all European breeds. Indeed, the methods developed, e.g. imputation, are used for all breeds and tools, such as the chips that have been developed, have taken account of the diversity of European dairy and suckler breeds.
As a result of EuroGenomics' ability to aggregate the global chip requirement with the supplier, Illumina, French and European farmers and their companies and research institutes have benefited from competitive genomic analysis pricing conditions since 2010.
EuroGenomics, a European Dynamic for the Competitiveness of Farmers and their Companies
The objective of EuroGenomics is always to improve the reliability and relevance of selection tools. It encourages the continuous development of genomic selection. This results in effective breeding schemes and therefore genetic progress that is available on farms.
EuroGenomics is now a key playerin Holstein genomic selection. The consortium has made it possible to increase farmers' confidence and has also been part of building an identity and European recognition.
French selection companies are therefore better equipped firstly to adapt their genetic offerto new demands in terms of health, animal welfare and sustainability, and secondly to win market sharesfor export.