Animal cloning and its importance in Indian Context
Authors: Dr. H. R. Meena, Manu, H.A. and A. P. Verma
Dairy Extension Division ICAR-NDRI, Karnal-132001


The development and use of farm animal cloning was a minor issue on the public biotechnology agenda until the mid-1990s. Earlier emphasis was on microorganisms, plants and to lesser extent transgenic animals cloning. However in 1997, as the birth of the cloned Dorset ewe Dolly was announced. A large number of cloning experiments had established in the years preceding Dolly's arrival (Einsiedel et al. 2002). What helped to make Dolly breaking news and the first global biotechnology event ever was the fact that she was the first result of somatic cloning: that is, she was produced from a body cell from an adult sheep, and not, as earlier animal clones had been, on embryos or embryonic cells.

After the birth of first cloned buffalo produced by conventional micro-manipulation based SCNT (Shi, D. et al. 2007) a major breakthrough was made in February 2009 by producing the world's first cloned buffalo calf through the handmade/hand guided cloning technique. As a result of this advancement, India has entered in an era of buffalo cloning, an important dairy and meat animal, through a simplified technique.

Animal cloning is the creation of a genetically identical copy of an existing or previously existing animal (FSA, 2009). The technology of animal cloning has made significant progress to the point where it is becoming viable in commercial livestock production. The potential for using cloned animals in food production was further enhanced with assessments by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Food Safety Administration (EFSA) that foods derived from cloned animals or their progeny were safe for human consumption. Uncertainty remains show ever, about how consumers in domestic and international markets will react to the availability of foods from cloned animals, and about how their reactions will be influenced by media coverage and other information about cloning.

What is animal cloning?

Animal Cloning is the process by which an entire organism is reproduced from a single cell taken from the parent organism and in a genetically identical manner and cloned animal is an exact duplicate in every way of its parent; it has the same DNA. Vjata and Gjerris (2006) defined animal cloning is a complex process by which scientists copy the genetic or inherited traits of an animal. Somatic cell nuclear transfer is the process most often used in animal cloning.

Importance of animal cloning

Cloning have potential to increase a selected important trait in animal and it help ranchers and farmers to more quickly breed desirable traits into their herds (Paterson, et al.,2003). Genetic improvements allow producers to potentially lower prices increase the quality of meat and milk products and possibly increase resistance to diseases (Lewis et al., 2004; Paterson et al., 2003). Cloning of animal in India help in following ways;

1. Cloned animal can be used in production of medically important protein.
2. It helps in preserving endangered species and to maintain biodiversity.
3. These cloned animals can be utilized in biomedical research and also used as model for treating human disease.
4. Cloned animal utilized as a commercial endeavor and help in producing large quantity of food product.
5. Cloning leads to rapid multiplication of desired livestock population.

Advantage of cloning in dairy animal

Cloning offers for more food production and have ability to exactly replicate animals with superior production characteristics like milk, meat etc. By duplicating a superior bull for example, cloning effectively extends the longevity of a genetically high quality animal. Replicating superior animals in this way has the potential to significantly enhance overall herd genetics, productivity and profitability. The resulting increase in animal productivity has the potential to benefit both producers and consumers, either through lower retail prices of the product or improved product quality and uniformity.

References:

1. Einsiedel, E., Allansdottir, A., Allum, N., Bauer, M.W., Berthomier, A., Chatjouli, A., de Cheveigne, S., Downey, R., Gutteling, J.M., Kohring, M., Leonarz, M., Manzoli, F., Olofsson, A., Przestalski, A., Rusanen, T., Seifert, F., Stathopoulou, A. & Wagner, W. (2002) Brave new sheep-the clone named Dolly. In: Bauer, M. & Gaskell, G. (eds.) Biotechnology. The making of a global controversy. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 313-347.
2. Food Standards Agency (2009). An evidence review of public attitudes to emerging food technologies. London: Food Standards Agency and Brook Lyndhurst Ltd. Available on the World Wide Web: http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/emergingfoodtech.pdf. Food Technology 53(5 )
3. Lewis, I. M. (2004) "Commercial aspects of cloning and genetic modification in cattle." Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 5:1105-1111.
4. Paterson, L., De Sousa, P., Ritchie, E., King, T., and Wilmut, I. (2003) Application of reproductive biotechnology in animals. Implications and potentials. Applications of reproductive cloning. Animal Reproduction Science, 79:137-143.
5. Shi, D., Lu, F., Wei, Y., Cui, K., Yang, S. and Wei, J. (2007) Buffalos (Bubalus bubalis) cloned by nuclear transfer of somatic cells. Biol. Reprod. 77:285-91.
6. Vajta, G., and Gjerris, M. (2006) Science and technology of farm animal cloning. State of the art. Animal Reproduction Science, 92:211-230.


About Author / Additional Info:
I am currently working as Senior Scientist in Dairy Extension Division, ICAR-National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal-132001 Haryana (India). I have also worked with ICAR-Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar-243122 Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh (India) as Scientist for 10 year. Also a recipient of the ICAR's prestigious "The Swami Sahajanand Saraswati Outstanding Extension Scientist Award" in social science.