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.

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 work was published in Genetics Selection Evolution in an article entitled 'A cautionary tale of low-pass sequencing and imputation with respect to haplotype accuracy'.