A joint project by Cobb Europe and the Roslin Institute in Scotland has been awarded a grant of almost GBP650,000 (US$1.07 million) from the UK’ s innovation agency, Innovate UK, for genome biobanking to optimize valuable broiler genetic stocks.

The award, under its Agri-Tech Catalyst program, will fund cryopreservation and cutting-edge sequencing technologies to address food security and production efficiency. New stem-cell preservation technology will be used to enable biobanking of pure lines to ensure these current genetic resources are available in the future. 

The project is projected to cost GBP815,904 (US$1.35 million). Most of that is being provided by the Innovate UK grant. The work will also further mine the genome of Cobb poultry resources to understand the genetic drivers of key economic traits and exploit existing genetic variation to drive significant improvements in commercial performance for emerging markets. 

The award is made in the context of a need to double global poultry production in the next 25 years to meet growing demand for animal protein in the developing world. Traditional commercial genetic resources will need to have the genetic potential to meet local environmental conditions, which include severe climate and disease challenge pressures. 

“Our investment and collaboration with the Roslin Institute represents a major initiative to address the genetic basis for improved breeder and broiler performance in an era of changing management programs and an ever-growing demand for animal protein,” said Dr Mitch Abrahamsen, Cobb-Vantress vice president of research and development.

“The awarding of funding from the UK government to support our collaboration is a significant recognition of the quality of the researchers involved and validation of our research strategies to assure food security and improving production efficiency.”  

Earlier this year, it was announced that Cobb-Vantress is putting more than GBP600,000 (US$1 million) in a three-year joint research programme with the Roslin Institute facilitating collaboration on avian disease resistance, genome analysis and genome preservation.

Catalysts are run jointly by Innovate UK and the Research Councils. A Catalyst is a form of research and development funding which focuses on a specific priority area and aims to help take projects from research to as close to commercial viability as possible. The Catalyst model supports projects in priority areas where the UK research base has a leading position and where there is clear commercial potential. Current Catalysts include: Biomedical Catalyst, Agri-tech Catalyst and the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst.