AUSTRALIA’s largest commercial livestock genomic testing laboratory has been officially opened in Gatton, Queensland, following a $5 million investment in new facilities and equipment.
The new labs developed by Neogen Australasia feature high-end genomic analysis tools and robotic processing capable of handling more than 500,000 samples each year to support the Australian beef cattle, sheep, dairy and companion animal industries.
Neogen Corporation vice president of corporate development, Dr Jason Lilly, said the opening was a milestone for Australian livestock industries, as they sought to accelerate the rate of improvement in the performance of breeding stock, leading to enhanced animal management.
Neogen Australasia’s parent company is a publicly listed food and animal safety company based in the US, which owns as GeneSeek, Inc., the world’s largest animal genomics laboratory, based in Lincoln Nebraska.
“By using innovative technologies coupled with the latest bio-informatic methods, Neogen is providing reliable, rapid, and affordable genomic information that helps livestock producers raise healthier animals and have more productive herds,” Dr Lilly said.
He said the company had built on the long tradition of quality genomic research at The University of Queensland and as a result Neogen was now Australia’s leading provider of genomic testing of cattle and sheep.
“More importantly, as Australian livestock producers increasingly embrace DNA-based technologies in their breeding programs, Neogen Australasia is the only local genomic testing facility, which will ensure the highest quality data delivered with rapid turnaround times, at fair prices,” he said.
The Queensland Government, through its Advance Queensland Industry Attraction Fund, played a role in attracting Neogen to locate its first Australian business in Queensland.
The state-of-the-art genomic laboratories are located at UQ’s Gatton campus, and employs more than 30 local staff, half of whom previously worked for UQ’s former Animal Genetics Laboratory (AGL). AGL acted as a research and industry service facility prior to Neogen’s 2017 decision to invest in a long-term commercial operation at the site.
Neogen Australasia general manager Dr Russell Lyons said his company’s investment in the custom-built laboratory was a sign of the company’s long-term commitment to the Australian livestock industries.
“Having local laboratories staffed by local people gives livestock producers the chance to actively participate in the genomic revolution – our doors are open and we welcome livestock producers to come in to view their samples being processed,” Dr Lyons said.
“The great thing about genomics is that DNA doesn’t lie. Genomic testing allows animal breeders to make better-informed decisions and improve the productivity and profitability of their businesses by accessing more precise information earlier in an animal’s lifecycle, saving producers money.”
Neogen Australia would be able to continue to provide the latest in DNA testing and bio-informatic tools to producers in Australia, through support received from Neogen’s global network of research and testing facilities, with laboratories in the US, United Kingdom and Brazil.
This morning’s laboratory opening was attended by more than 100 livestock producers and industry leaders, with presentations on the power of genomic testing and its future directions delivered by expert guest speakers from The University of Queensland, the University of New England, the Sheep CRC, CSIRO and Meat & Livestock Australia.
Source: Neogen Australasia