The University of Tennessee, Institute of Agriculture is committed to the advancement of agriculture by developing new strategies for improvement of productivity and sustainability of food production systems.

Specifically, beef production is vital to the economy of Tennessee. The University of Tennessee, Institute of Agriculture is the flagship program for education, discovery, and service to beef producers and agricultural communities to support the breadth of the industry.

UTIA has identified genetics and genomics as a high priority area in which to commit resources needed to create a nationally pre-eminent program that can provide leadership in the advancement of the beef industry through a holistic approach including genetics, animal health, reproduction, structural soundness, disease and pest resistance, heat tolerance, nutrition, and consumer sciences among others.

The beef industry, particularly Angus breeders, have developed progressive, rapidly changing genomic testing programs as a means of accelerating genetic selection and improving consistency of progeny outcomes for desired performance characteristics. Phenotypic selection criteria have been the basis for genetic improvement of beef cattle for many years.

Phenotypic data represents the culmination of influences from genetic, environment, and management on the ultimate performance outcomes of progeny. Phenotype, alone, has been limited in its ability to eliminate genetic defects, accurately predict outcomes, and yield consistent progeny performance. Also, phenotypic assessment does not yield reliable data regarding disease resistance, parasite resistance, fertility and other physiologic expressions. Future algorithms that guide the development of the beef industry are best served by a combination of phenotypic and genomic analysis. To that end, we propose to develop a program of excellence in livestock genomics as a high priority area for UTIA. This may only be accomplished by forming partnerships with beef and allied industries.