Objectives and organization
Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA)

 Targeted research to the service of agriculture

For the past 60 years, the INRA (National Institute for Agricultural Research) has been in charge of developing research in the areas of agriculture, food and nutrition and the environment. It is a public institution present throughout France, with 9 000 staff members, and is organised into 14 divisions.

The Animal Genetics division understand the genetic determinism of phenotypic traits and to develop methods and management tools for livestock populations.

In 1966, a national regulation on livestock (Loi sur l’Elevage) gave the INRA the following tasks: managing the national livestock databases, computing genetic evaluations and, more generally, taking part in the joint management of the French genetic system.

This is the base of the Animal Genetics division philosophy, based on the complementarity between analysis and management of the genetic variability, and the continuum between research and its applications in genetic improvement.

While the recent agricultural orientation policy profoundly changed the national genetic system by handing responsibility over to breeding organisation taking part in it, the INRA keeps its missions of managing, at a national level, the livestock databases and computing genetic evaluations.

This national state involvement is maintained for two reasons:

  • first, to guarantee unicity, objectivity and independence in genetic evaluation, thus providing a reliable source of information in a more liberal and competitive system ;
  • second, to uphold the long-term interests of society in questions of selection orientation, ethics in selection practices, safeguarding biodiversity and land development.

 Examples of projects on ruminants


  • participation in genome sequencing consortiums
  • comparative genome analysis for different species
  • inventory of DNA polymorphisms
  • production of tools for analysis of gene expression (DNA chips)


  • detection of genes (QTL) for meat quality, double muscling
  • fine composition of milk
  • mastitis resistance
  • fertility
  • helmints resistance
  • behaviour
  • prolificacy
  • out-of-season reproduction
  • scrapie resistance
  • coat colour
  • various genetic abnormalities.


  • active part taken in the development and progressive deployment of the new national information systems (SIG, SIEOL, OVALL,SIECL)
  • genetic evaluation of reproducers for a growing number of populations and traits, certified for cattle
  • international genetic evaluation project
  • involvement in the scrapie national program
  • genomic selection of dairy cattle
  • management of the cattle congenital abnormalities observatory
  • development of methods limiting the genetic variability erosion
  • participation in the Foundation for Research in Biodiversity and the National Cryobank.


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