HOHHOT, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Chinese livestock experts have cloned a group of goats engineered with the gene that produces rich fine-haired cashmere.
"From February to March, 14 such goats were cloned at the Inner Mongolia White Cashmere Goat Breeding Farm," said Liu Shaoqing, manager of the farm based in Erdos, in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
He said 12 of the cloned goats carry the expressing gene of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), known by scientists to play a role in boosting fur growth.
The cloned breed of Alpas Cashmere Goat can yield more than 1,000 grams of cashmere a year, compared with 600 grams for an ordinary cashmere goat, he said.
Cashmere, which comes from the downy underfleece of the cashmere goat, is dubbed as "soft gold" and sought after by up-market consumers.
"Once applied for mass production of the breed, the technology is expected to benefit Chinese goat farmers and increase the country's cashmere output," said Shorgan Bou, an academic with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, while visiting the farm Tuesday.
The cashmere goat cloning was a key national research project conducted by a team of experts led by Liu Dongjun, a researcher with the Laboratory for Mammal Reproduction and Biotechnology at Inner Mongolia University.
The lab's research on cow and goat cloning is internationally-recognized, Shorgan said.
Much of the lab's technology has been applied at local breeding farms, and cows with high Omega-3 fatty acid have already been cloned.