Making more milk
New Zealand scientists at AgResearch have discovered some keys to dramatically increasing milk production in the country’s cows. Researchers investigated the potential of epigenetic regulation, or changes in gene expression caused by chemical changes to DNA, to manipulate mammary function, to significant success. Most promisingly, Epigenetic changes are often inherited from one generation to the next, and can be triggered by environmental cues. “Our research will lead to novel approaches, such as nutritional interventions for manipulating epigenetic mechanisms. Not only will that enhance the lifetime lactation performance of dairy cows, but may also enhance the lactation performance of their calves,” says Dr. Juliet Singh, the leader of the project. AgResearch is teaming up with Livestock Improvement Corporation, which has large databases on New Zealand cow populations, enabling further understanding of how the mammary gland responds to environmental cues for enhanced milk production.