Sheep genome shows links between wool, health: study

Updated 08 June 2014
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Sheep genome shows links between wool, health: study

WASHINGTON: Scientists have mapped the entire genome of sheep, paving the way to improve the health of the humble farm animal for better meat and wool.
After eight years of work on the entire genetic makeup of the species, the researchers also found the secrets of the sheep’s digestive system and unique fat metabolism process that allows it to produce and maintain its thick coat.
Sheep became a species distinct from goats and other ruminants about four million years ago, with a four-compartmented stomach that can convert rich plant materials into animal protein, according to the study.
That digestive feature allows sheep to easily feed on a diet of low-quality grass and other plants.
The study published in the journal Science was the culmination of a project involving 26 institutions from eight countries that is part of the International Sheep Genomics Consortium.
Researchers hope their findings will help develop DNA tests to improve stock through accelerated breeding selection programs, and to further research to mitigate diseases affecting the animals.
“Given the importance of wool production, we focused on which genes were likely to be involved in producing wool,” said Brian Dalrymple, project leader at Australia’s national science agency the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
“We identified a new pathway for the metabolism of lipid in sheep skin, which may play a role in both the development of wool and in the efficient production of wool grease (lanolin).”
There are about a billion sheep around the world — including around 70 million in Australia alone. So the researchers predicted their work could have a “massive impact” for the rural economy due to the sheep service as a significant source of meat, milk and wool products.
Researchers from Australia, Britain, China, France, Denmark and New Zealand participated in the study.


Ful — the dish of choice for iftar and suhoor in Madinah

Updated 25 May 2018
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Ful — the dish of choice for iftar and suhoor in Madinah

LONDON: Ful, a dish made of cooked fava beans, is proving to be the dish of choice for fasting Muslims during Ramadan in the Saudi Arabian city of Madinah.
The dish, which is an everyday food across the Arab World, is one of the most popular dishes served in Madinah at Iftar, the evening meal with which Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset, and suhoor, the pre-dawn meal.
Ful’s popularity stems from its excellent nutritional value, delicious taste, attractive aroma, and the fact that it is considered to be a very filling food rich in protein.
Iftar in Madinah is not complete without ful and the city’s ful vendors are extremely busy just before sunset with people wanting to buy the freshly prepared dish.
There are two ways of preparing ful in Madinah, one is made of hand-crushed fava beans and the other is prepared with the whole bean.
The preparation of ful varies from region to region in the Arab world. Lebanese foul overflows with the flavours of lemon, olive oil and garlic whilst Egyptian ful is made with olive oil, parsley, cumin and tahini.