Species Identification / Food Composition
Qualitative and quantitative genetic tests are available for the presence or absence of species of interest. Methods depend on the species identification required, but generally rt-PCR and COI barcoding are used. Quantitative techniques offer additional information on the relative abundance of multiple species simultaneously within a sample. This method is appropriate for analyses of food items where minimum or maximum abundance regulations are in force.
For example, during the recent Europe-wide horsemeat scandal Matís carried out species composition analyses on various items for the Icelandic regulatory authority (MAST) and for concerned companies directly. Initial rapid qualitative assessments were provided, subsequently backed up by forensically validated quantitative analyses.
Demonstrable traceability is becoming essential in many fields, such as certification of origin for foods and fisheries management. Genetic traceability tools may be used to monitor the progress of individual organisms or samples through the food processing chain, or to identify the area of origin. Depending on the application, characteristic genetic markers are developed in order to distinguish individuals or the area of origin.
At Matís we have considerable experience in the identification and application of such markers, particularly in marine species, having participated in numerous national and international projects in this area (link to FishPopTrace and FoodIntergrity websites). We therefore have the expertise to develop traceability methods for use in a wide range of species and applications.
For example, staff at Matís participated in the FishPopTrace project. This international project aimed to develop forensically validated genetic traceability tools to identify the region of catch for four major European fish species: cod, herring, sole, hake. These tools are central to efforts to combat illegal fishing in the region and underpin major revisions in the Common Fisheries Policy.
Parental assignment from a pool of candidates can be carried out for either or both parents. This information can have many applications, such as to assign pedigree, guide breeding programmes, and is a requirement for the export of some Icelandic breeds.
At Matís we can offer one-off or ongoing parental assignment services. This service may also be used in conjunction with our Mate-Me-Right software to guide your full breeding programme: specifically designed for aquaculture and agricultural applications (see below).
This service is currently not offered for human analyses – other animal species only.
Genetic Trait Analysis
There are many characteristics of animals and plants of interest to breeders, farming, aquaculture and others. In many cases the genetic basis to these characters has been identified to either simple genes or multi-gene complexes (QTLs). Depending upon the trait, genetic assessments may identify the presence or absence of the gene of interest or, for complex traits, the scale of genetic predisposition in an individual.
Example 1. Simple genetic trait analyses allow sex-determination in juvenile poultry, or to identify DMRT3 gene in horses which determines the horse’s ability to produce a fifth gait (such as pace, ambling or lateral gaits).
Example 2. In sheep, resistance to the neurological disease Scrapie can be diagnosed by genotyping individuals for 2 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs). A simple genetic analysis can assess an individual’s genetic status and be used to inform breeding decisions.
Breeding Programs for Aquaculture and Agriculture
Extended breeding programmes in any species can benefit greatly from employing genetic services.
Without careful management long term selective breeding can erode genetic diversity in the broodstock. As a result, adaptive genetic traits can be lost and negative traits fixed, thereby reducing the stock´s ability to respond to further selection, reducing their genetic health and causing inbreeding depression.
Matís offers genetic monitoring services for diversity and / or genetic traits of interest within broodstock. This may be combined with breeding guidance in order to avoid the loss of genetic diversity while simultaneously selecting for the traits of interest.
Following genotyping, breeding programmes and their objectives can be easily manipulated and optimised at Matís.