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If you have any questions, ideas or additions for the Scrapie program up to now or for the coming future please contact the Scrapie program co—ordinator. The Scrapie committee meets annually or upon any specific requests.

February 2008 Scrapie Canada Update

GeneNovaS - Home of the National Scrapie Genotype Database

by Gregory Bishop and Hossain Farid

Nova Scotia Agricultural College

GeneNovaS is the home of the National Scrapie Genotype Database. This is a database filled with genotypes of Canadian purebred sheep at the prion protein gene that is responsible for scrapie resistance. Genotype information from various laboratories across Canada is being collected, along with pedigree information from the Canadian Livestock Records Corporation (CLRC), and added to the database regularly. The database and its website have been online since May 2005 and can be viewed at http://genenovas.ca.

What does the GeneNovaS website deliver?

The GeneNovaS website provides a quick and easy way for sheep breeders to obtain information on the genotype of their sheep. It also provides tips on how to use the genetic information to establish scrapie resistant flocks. GeneNovaS includes the following options which have been created to help breeders to efficiently use their flock’s genetic information.

  1. The SORT option is a convenient way of working with the genotypes of your sheep for use in breeding programs. Your flock’s data can be sorted according to breed, age, sex, scrapie resistance category, etc. The results are designed to be printed if so desired.
  2. The SEARCH option provides breeders with tremendous flexibility in accessing genotype information. A breeder can use this option to easily find the genotype of a specific animal or group of animals in their flock.
  3. The PREDICT option enables breeders to predict the genotypic outcome of mating any ram with a specific ewe or group of ewes in your flock. This option facilitates designing optimum schemes for breeding scrapie resistance, particularly in large flocks. The alternative is to establish your own spreadsheet or database, which would require re-entry of the pedigree and genotype information.
  4. The PREDICTABLE option displays matings that will produce predictable genotypes. A breeder will be able to identify and test only those animals that need to be genotyped according to parental information. Since the transmission of genetic information from a sire and a dam to their offspring follows known genetic rules, the possible genotypes of an offspring can be predicted using the genotypes of its parents. As selection for scrapie resistance continues, the number of animals carrying genotypes that will produce offspring with predictable genotypes will increase, and fewer and fewer lambs will need to be genotyped. This option will allow a breeder to identify those animals that need to be genotyped in each generation, thereby tremendously reducing the genotyping cost.
  5. GeneNovaS can be used for marketing purposes as well. You can add any of your sheep to the MARKETPLACE, a public storeroom that is accessible by all prospective buyers in Canada and worldwide. This is an excellent marketing tool for your sheep. This feature will accelerate the rate of achieving scrapie resistant status because breeders could seek out animals with a desired genotype in their breed of choice to purchase for breeding. Once a sheep in the Marketplace has been sold, either the breeder can remove it from the Marketplace or transfer the sheep’s genotype to the new owner.
  6. The website makes it possible for you to have access to your flock’s genotype results quickly via the internet. Other means of sending information out from the lab, such as mail or fax, are time consuming, subject to delays or loss of the data.
  7. The confidentiality of your sheep’s genetic information will not be compromised. This is achieved by permitting you to have access to only your flock’s results in a password-protected website. No other method of sending the results across the country has a comparable level of security. In case you do not have access to a computer, or are not so adept at using one, provincial agricultural extension personnel, a friend or a neighbour could likely help you view your results.
  8. Because sheep breeders are not able to alter the information on the website, the website (including the MARKETPLACE) can be considered an official certificate for the genotype of individual sheep.

After adult sheep in a flock have been genotyped, access to a means of identifying and testing lambs whose genotype cannot be predicted with certainty, is crucial to reducing the cost of future genotyping. GeneNovaS offers this means of identification.

A free online demonstration of GeneNovaS capabilities is available to all producers at https://genenovas.ca/public/allb.html.

For more information on GeneNovaS, please contact Scrapie Canada at 1-866-534-1302 or visit the website at http://genenovas.ca.

Two Sheep

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