Genetic mapping of key domestic species
In a statement released shortly before the panel discussion took place, Agra Professional Services said “many Namibians sustain themselves and their families through the rearing of animals which have commercial value, or through general agricultural activities. Ensuring that the Namibians active in the agricultural sector benefit as much as possible from their hard work; genetic research on cattle, sheep and goats is being carried out.
“Namibia is the ideal location for rearing and marketing superior genetic livestock material regionally and internationally. The same is true for products originating from Namibian livestock and wild animals. To protect this prime genetic resource a number of options exist for both domesticated and wild animals.
These options span from registering trade marks on products of such animals to declaring geographic indicators on both the animals and their products. However, before internationally recognised protection mechanisms can be registered, a number of research applications need to be completed. One of them is DNA sequencing or genetic mapping.
Genetic mapping of Namibian animal species has been made possible through Affymetrix GeneChip technology locally. The chip stores more than 5 GB, or 3 million pieces of biochemical test information about a species.
Agra’s Professional Services Division, as part of their research efforts, has looked into the opportunities that GeneChip technology offers with regard to genetically mapping Namibian indigenous animal species like Swakara sheep or Nguni cattle.
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Namibia is running a number of projects aimed at adding value to Namibia’s natural resource base. One such project, under the leadership of Dr Erold Naomab, Coordinating Director of UNAM Southern Campus, focuses on biotechnology interventions. The aim is to understand the genetic sequences of the animals that have adapted to the Namibian environment; as well as exploring and tapping into the commercial value of such animals.
At the panel discussion, Dr Naomab explained the value of genetic mapping.