University of Illinois (UI) researchers identified the mutation causing Contractural Arachnodactyly (CA; formerly Fawn Calf Syndrome), a genetic abnormality affecting Angus and Angus-derived cattle.

Jonathan Beever, UI associate professor in the department of animal sciences and lead researcher, said his team completed the correct assembly of the DNA sequence responsible for CA on June 8. Since then, they have developed DNA tests based on this mutation.

"CA is a genetic abnormality inherited as a simple recessive," Beever said. "Some debate exists about its classification as a genetic defect because many CA-affected calves survive and can reach reproductive age. However, at the population level, CA behaves as a lethal genetic defect and should be classified as such."

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To see lots more on beef-cattle genetics, take a look at the 2010 BEEF Cow-Calf Issue published last February and entitled "Genetics Today and Tomorrow." Included is a comprehensive summary of commercially available DNA tests for beef cattle available here.