The National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) cloned a male Murrah buffalo calf here on Monday.
Named Swarn, the 55-kg calf is normal and responding well. It was born from a surrogate Murrah buffalo through a natural delivery.
NDRI director Dr AK Srivastava told Hindustan Times on Tuesday that scientists had used the institute's hand-guided cloning technique where somatic cells from seminal plasma of a Murrah bull were taken.
"It is for the first time in the world that similar successful experiment was undertaken on any dairy animal. The technique will now help us copy end numbers of genetically superior quality bulls," he said.
Srivastava said the clone was born at 1.25pm on Monday and its genetic mapping was completed on Tuesday afternoon.
Dr MS Chauhan, an animal biotechnologist and member of the cloning team, told HT that instead of taking sperms directly from a bull, the scientists had decided to use somatic cells present in the seminal plasma.
"Conventionally, when a sperm is fused with an egg, the offspring gets characters of both the parents. But with our latest technique, where somatic cells present in the seminal fluid were used, the clone will get genes of the male only," he explained.
Dr Srivastava said the success would have far-reaching benefits in Indian dairy sector.
"Despite having the largest population of dairy animals in the world, India has a poor number of quality bulls. But, the new technique would stir a revolution and our team has cracked a sure way to get a progeny with the quality of a tested bull," he said.
Dr Suresh K Singla, principal animal biotechnologist, said it took almost a year to develop the technique and another one year when the calf was born.
"Now, the NDRI's expertise has reached a level where scientists could successfully develop embryo from any part of an animal," he added.
Dr S Ayyappan, director-general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Science (ICAR), and Dr MS Swaminathan, father of the Green Revolution, congratulated the NDRI scientists for the latest cloning success.
At a meeting of the ICAR directors in New Delhi on Tuesday, Dr Ayyappan said the NDRI had emerged as a pioneer institute in cloning of dairy animals in the world.