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CALS Dairy Scientist Wins Animal Breeding Award

Margaret R. Dentine, a dairy scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has received the J. L. Lush Award in Animal Breeding in recognition of her outstanding research accomplishments in dairy cattle breeding.

Trained as a quantitative geneticist, Dentine has developed an innovative research program based in molecular genetics. She was among the first to combine the techniques of quantitative and molecular genetics, and her work has helped to build bridges between these disciplines.

Her early research focused on the structure of the growth-hormone and prolactin genes in Holsteins. She identified restriction fragment length polymorphisms (“genetic fingerprints”) near both genes, with frequencies suitable for application in marker-assisted selection. Dentine has developed a method that more effectively utilizes the marker information, allowing researchers to make more informed choices, with fewer mistakes, about genetic potential in cattle. In a more recent project, Dentine has joined an international effort to create a detailed map of the cattle genome.

The artificial insemination industry has used Dentine”s research on marker-assisted selection since the early 1990s. Using genetic markers, only those sons of sires that have favorable marker alleles are chosen for progeny testing. Sire analysts use this knowledge to test fewer bulls and reduce the cost of progeny testing, and to obtain faster rates of genetic progress.

Dentine is on the faculty of the Department of Dairy Science and serves as interim associate dean for research at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and interim executive director of the Wisconsin Agricultural Experiment Station. She received the J. L. Lush Award July 29 at the annual meeting of the American Dairy Science Association in Denver.