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Rainfall drives genetic adaptation in Ethiopian sheep, study finds
Around one-third of smallholders in Ethiopia own sheep.

Finding could inform future breeding strategies in tropical countries.

Ethiopian sheep adapt more to changes in rainfall than to other environmental factors, according to new research.

The study, published in Genome Biology and Evolution, found that genetic variations in sheep DNA are more associated with precipitation levels than temperature or altitude. It also identifies specific genes that may be involved in the adaptation to environmental factors.

It is hoped the findings could inform future management and breeding strategies in tropical countries like Ethiopia, where around a third of smallholders own sheep.

“This study provides a foundation to investigate further the effects of climate on small ruminant populations,” explained study author Dr Emily Clark of the Roslin Institute and Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH).
“The dataset we have generated is also a valuable resource to design new genomic technologies to support Ethiopian sheep farmers and help to mitigate the effects of the changing climates we now see in tropical ecosystems.”

In the study, researchers analysed the genomes of 94 sheep from 12 regions across Ethiopia and examined them alongside climatic information for each of the geographic areas. In comparing the sheep genomes, they found more than three million minute differences in specific segments of their DNA.

Researchers then measured altitude, temperature and rainfall in each of the 12 regions to see how often these genetic variations occurred. Their analysis suggests that rainfall is more important than temperature or altitude in driving genetic adaptation in sheep.

 “Ethiopia is an ideal setting to investigate environmental adaptation in livestock, owing to its large range of climatic conditions and the rich genetic diversity of its livestock," commented
Dr Pam Wiener of the Roslin Institute. "By examining related sheep populations from a limited geographical region, our study was able to focus more specifically on the impact of environmental variables, giving us a greater degree of confidence in our results.”

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Special imports digital service set to change

News Story 1
 From Monday, 15 July, Special Import Certificate (SIC) applications will only be accepted via the Veterinary Medicines Directorate's (VMD's) new special imports digital service.

The original online special import scheme will be decommissioned. The VMD says that the new service is easier to use, more secure and reliable, and meets accessibility legislation.

The VMD is urging veterinary surgeons who have not yet signed up for the new service to do so before 15 July. The new digital service can be accessed here

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News Shorts
RCVS course explains concerns process

A free, online course from the RCVS Academy has been launched, designed to clarify RCVS' concerns procedure.

The content will give veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses a better understanding of the process, and what they can expect if a concern is raised about them. It includes details of common concerns.

The interactive resource has been developed in collaboration with Clare Stringfellow, case manager in the RCVS Professional Conduct Team.

Ms Stringfellow said: "We appreciate that concerns can be very worrying, and we hope that, through this course, we can give vets and nurses a better understanding of the process and how to obtain additional support."

The course can be accessed via the RCVS Academy. Users are encouraged to record their learning for CPD.