Podcast: “Embryo-Mediated Gene Editing, Coat Color, and Mitigating Herd Heat Absorption in a Warming Climate”

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Episode Description

Join us for a special episode of Dairy Digressions recorded live at the International Embryo Technology Society’s 50th Annual Conference. Between sessions, host Matt Lucy sat down with Goetz Laible, PhD, biochemist and principal scientist at AgResearch and honorary associate professor at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Their discussion walks listeners through Goetz’s work in developing and evaluating technologies for the genetic improvement of livestock. In the face of our warming climate, Goetz and his animal biotechnology team are working to advance gene-editing technology to help dairy herds cope better—and stay healthy and productive—with increasing heat exposure. The two also deep dive into the science behind Goetz’s recent work on light-colored coats in Holstein Friesian cows. Using direct editing of embryos, Goetz and his team amplified naturally occurring coat mutation—which makes some cows lighter than others—to create lighter-colored cows in a single generation. These animals still retain their classic spots but with increased white coverage and a dilution of black spots to a light gray. Lighter gene-edited cows absorb a staggering 40% less solar radiation than their dominantly black counterparts, representing an important step forward for grass-fed dairy herds that spend most of their time outdoors. Listen in as Goetz sheds light on the potential applications of this technology in dairy herds, including his experience taking it to producers. He and Matt discuss the changing tides when it comes to farmer and consumer openness toward biotechnologies with the potential to help cows lead healthier, happier lives. An avid traveler, Goetz also shares his favorite perk of working in science and his advice for young scientists to embrace collaboration.