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Cost-effective DNA analysis could support dog research

Lower-cost genomic analysis could enable affordable screening of individual dogs for genetic health conditions, and support breeding programmes.

yellow labrador

A method of reading a dog's entire genetic code at a lower level of detail than conventional techniques can significantly reduce costs while providing substantial genetic insights for researchers, a study shows.

A research team led by the Roslin Institute and the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies studied saliva samples of 30 Labrador Retrievers to explore how this approach could help in understanding and benefiting canine genetics.

Cost-effective genomics

Scientists combined low resolution whole-genome DNA sequencing with a method known as imputation, which involves using a reference panel of genetic data representing a diversity of dog breeds to statistically predict missing genetic data.

This approach takes advantage of haplotype information - patterns of genetic variation which are often shared between dogs of the same breed.

Lower costs mean more dogs may be included in future studies, leading to increased statistical power and a better understanding of genetic factors in canine health, the team says.

These findings open doors for affordable genetic studies, and demonstrate the feasibility of using saliva samples for DNA analysis, the team says. However, researchers recommend opting for more in-depth sequencing when highly precise genetic information is required.

This research was published in Genetics Selection Evolution in collaboration with colleagues from the US, and funded by IDEXX Laboratories.


Our results indicated that low coverage DNA sequencing and imputation could be a useful tool in the box for canine genetics, but a degree of caution is needed as the process isn’t perfect and will not be appropriate in some situations. Nonetheless, it has shown promise in livestock breeding, and could help us uncover insights for both pedigree breeding and understanding genetic health in dogs”.

Dr David Wragg, Population Geneticist and Bioinformatician

 ** The Roslin Institute receives strategic investment funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and it is part of the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. **

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