AT YOUR FINGERTIPS: Neogen Australasia general manager Dr Russell Lyons holds a tissue sample ready to be DNA analysed at Neogen's new facility at the UQ Gatton Campus.
AT YOUR FINGERTIPS: Neogen Australasia general manager Dr Russell Lyons holds a tissue sample ready to be DNA analysed at Neogen's new facility at the UQ Gatton Campus. Dominic Elsome

Australia first for Gatton's genomic testing lab

LIVESTOCK breeders and producers have gained another important tool to manage their herds' genetics, with Neogen Australasia opening Australia's largest livestock genomic testing Laboratory in Gatton.

The new lab was purpose built at the UQ Gatton Campus and features high-end robotic processing tools allowing the site to process more than 500,000 samples each year.

Neogen Corporation corporate development vice president Dr Jason Lilly said the location of the facility would be a positive for local producers.

"As Australian farmers increasingly embrace DNA-based technologies in their breeding programs, Neogen Australasia is the only local genomic testing facility, which will ensure the highest quality data delivered with rapid turnaround times," Dr Lilly explained.

The new facility employs more than 30 local staff, half of whom worked previously at UQ's former Animal Genetics Laboratory.

Neogen Australasia general manager Dr Russell Lyons said the investment in the local lab was an important step for genomics in Australia and encouraged more producers to utilise the technology.

"The great thing about genomics is that DNA doesn't lie," Dr Lyons said.

"Genomic testing allows animal breeders to make better informed decision and improve the productivity and profitability of their businesses by accessing more precise information earlier in an animals life-cycle, saving producers money."

Dr Lyons added that employing local staff gave the lab an edge over more distant providers.

"Having local laboratories staffed by local people really does give local livestock producers the chance to actively participate in the genomic revolution," he said.

Dr Lilly explained that rapid advances in technology had increased both the accuracy and speed of genomic testing.

DNA analysis could now scan for more than 55,000 genetics markers, highlighting everything from milk production capabilities in dairy cows through to disease susceptibility in sheep.

He said the benefits of genomics was the speed at which producers could understand their herds genetics and begin acting on that information.

"You can do traditional, genetic selection from bulls - it's five years and $50,000 or $60,000," he explained.

"You can use genomics and it's two weeks and $40."


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