Indian scientists clone male calf from dead bull’s semen

CHANDIGARH (TIP): Scientists in Karnal have successfully cloned a male calf from the frozen semen of a Murrah bull which died 10 years ago. “We have for the first time produced a male cloned calf from the somatic cell of progeny-tested bull which died 10 years ago,” director of National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) Dr AK Srivastava said.

The calf, who has been given name of Rajat, was born on July 23 by using “hand-guided cloning” technique and its weight at the time of the birth was 32 kg, a release from NDRI said. The Murrah bull, whose frozen semen was used to produce male calf, had been ranked first in the 5th set of all-India progeny-testing programme.

A progeny test is performed by mating the male with a number of females to produce many progenies and the average performance of the offspring is then found, giving a measure of the male’s respective value, and it takes years to evaluate its superiority, an NDRI release said. The NDRI Director said there was an acute shortage of good-quality bulls and the technology of “hand-guided cloning” could decrease this gap and supply elite bulls in the shortest possible time.

“We do not have progeny-tested bulls and moreover, there is a shortage of 80-90 million doses of semen in the country.We have frozen semen of progeny-tested bulls and we can produce good quality of bulls by this cloning technique,” Srivastava said. Cloning, which helps in faster multiplication of superior germplasm, can be done through males by producing clones of progeny-tested bulls and through females by producing clone of high-yielding lactating females.

A team of seven scientists — SK Singla, MS Chauhan, RS Manik, P Palta, Shiv Parsad, Anuj Raja and Amol Sahare — was involved in the production of cloned calf. S Ayyappan, secretary, department of agricultural research and education (DARE) and director general, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), congratulated the team and said this achievement of producing cloned calf from progeny-tested bull by hand-guided cloning technique will facilitate faster multiplication of elite germplasm and help face the challenges of increasing demands of milk, said the release.

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