Molecular (DNA) Analyses

University of Guelph, Agriculture & Food Laboratory has a strong background in the testing requirements for the food service industry.  Click below to learn more about our molecular services or contact us to learn how we can meet your needs:

Other Useful Links


Animal & Meat Species Identification

Our methods can identify any unknown species, or detect a specific species within a food or feed product.  The animal materials can be raw, cooked or processed.

Applied Research

We are dedicated to keeping apprised of new and cost-effective molecular methodologies as they continue to advance rapidly.  We have successful developed, validated and implemented many molecular methodologies for both routine testing and analytical needs in research projects.  Examples of our recent government-funded research projects can be found here.

To achieve research success, we will:

  • Provide novel and innovative solutions
  • Manage your projects using approved procedures for routine analysis, instrument operations, documentation and administration
  • Deliver accurate, timely and cost effective results
  • Maintain sample integrity and protection of intellectual properties
  • Meet or exceed your expectations

We are accredited to ISO 17025 for test method development and validation.  Our expertise extends to work with clients to develop, adapt and/or validate new molecular methods for various purposes.

Automated DNA Sequencing

  • ABI 3730 DNA Analyzer (sequencer)
  • Accurate, timely results
  • Long read (up to 1000 bases) on good quality DNA
  • Trouble-shooting and re-sequencing, as applicable
  • Primer design & synthesis
  • DNA isolation/purification as needed
  • Expert technical advice
  • Storage of templates and primers (3 months)
  • Editing and assembly as needed
  • Competitive pricing and volume discounts
  • Free common primers (30 in total)
  • Sequencing project packages (from cloning to data annotation)
  • Online ordering and data downloading (DNA Sequencing Page)

For more information please contact us.

Bovine/Ruminant/Porcine/Rice Residue Testing

Animal feed should contain no materials from ruminant animals (including cattle) in order to prevent the spread of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease) in our animals. We test feed or food samples for the presence of residual bovine, ruminant materials against a threshold value. Both DNA (PCR) and protein (ELISA) tests are available.

Rice flour can be used as a particulate tracer, which can be mixed into non-prohibited raw material used to flush rendering systems, to verify the relative efficacy of cleanout procedures in rendering operations. We offer rice flour residue test to facilitate the monitoring process.  

DNA Fingerprinting and Fragment Analysis

DNA fingerprinting has a wide range of applications in agriculture and food sectors such as variety (or species) identification, variety (or species) identity preservation, genetic marker identification, microbial contamination tracing and pathogen-outbreak investigation. DNA fingerprinting is conducted in our lab on any biological materials using technologies including Microsatellite analysis, rep-PCR, RAPD, T-RFLP, MLVA, MLST and AFLP (for research), and more. We also provide services for fluorescent fragment analysis.

DNA Isolation and Banking

We routinely isolate DNA from all kinds of food, feed, water, environment, plants and animal blood, tissue, semen and fecal samples. We provide DNA extraction services not only for immediate use of DNA but also for DNA banking or long-term storage purposes.

GMO Testing

Labeling of food and food ingredients containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is mandatory according to EU regulations on GMO. Using real-time PCR, we provide qualitative DNA-based analyses in soy samples.

Microbial Species Identification (bacteria, yeast, fungus)

We conduct routine identification of "unknown" microorganisms (bacterium, yeast and fungus) in pure cultures using DNA from the microorganisms. You will receive objective, reproducible and cost-effective results rapidly without relying on growth, biochemical reaction and prior knowledge of organism (e.g. Gram stain). Project packages for identifying the microbial community in a sample are available.

Mutation Detection and Genotyping

We provide SNP analysis and genotyping services based on client's specific needs using client-preferred methods that are rapidly advancing. Please contact us for your specific needs.

Oligo Synthesis

Custom nucleic acid oligos are synthesized using the ABI 3900 DNA Synthesizer. Oligo orders are on-line at the OLIGO page. The website will also help you to track (or manage) your orders. Primer design is available upon request. Modifications include (but not limited to) fluorescent labelling, inosine modified base, phosphorylation, terminal amine and biotinylation. Normal oligos are delivered or sent out the next business day for orders received before 3:00 PM. Delivery is free for University of Guelph and neighbouring clients. Volume discounts are available.

Please follow this link to access the Oligo Synthesis and Sequencing login page or contact us for more information.

PCR Detection & Sub-typing of Food/Waterborne Pathogens

  • Salmonella
  • Shigella
  • E. coli O157:H7
  • Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC or VTEC)
  • Camplylobacter
  • Listeria
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Giardia
  • Legionella
  • Yersinia
  • Coxiella
  • Probiotic bacteria (Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Streptococcus thermophilus)

If you have concerns about microbial contamination or pathogen-outbreak, our highly educated and dedicated scientists may provide the key to solving your food safety or environmental issues. Rest assured, we take your concerns seriously and will help you get the answers you need to keep your product moving quickly.

Plant Species Identification

Our DNA-based plant ID test determines species of unknown plant materials such as vegetables, fruits, grains and trees. The plant materials can be raw, and sometimes processed or cooked.

Plant Variety/Cultivar Testing

There are many varieties/cultivars of a particular plant species. DNA-based tests accurately determine varieties/cultivars to ensure “true-to-variety” for a superior trait, character, or value, for exporting acceptance, or for regulatory compliance. For example, there are six varieties/cultivars of Tebou beans and four types of Azuki beans which look alike. Only certain varieties/cultivars are acceptable for exporting purposes or have superior quality (value). Our DNA tests provide identification/discrimination, as well as QC-check (for contamination of un-wanted varieties/cultivars) among the Azuki and Tebou bean varieties/cultivars. Our variety/cultivar testing includes, but is not limited to:

  • Apples (e.g. Golden Delicious & Macintosh)
  • Azuki beans (e.g. Erimosyouzu & Kitanootome)
  • Potatoes (e.g. Yukon Gold)
  • Raspberries
  • StrawberriesTebou beans (e.g. Hemi-Tebou & Yuki-Tebou)
  • Tobacco (e.g. distinguishing Canadian from American varieties)

Real-time PCR

Quantitative real-time PCR is used to determine the percentage of a particular target DNA or RNA in a sample. Our technology platform is the ABI PrismTM 7500 FAST Sequence Detection System.

Swine IGF2 Testing

Swine IGF2 (insulin-like growth factor 2) gene is known to be associated with muscle growth in pigs, particularly, leanness and uniformity. Pigs carrying the "G" to "A" mutation in IGF2 intron3-3072 region have higher leanness and uniformity. IGF2 test accurately detects the genetic mutation associated with meat quality. We provide the IGF2 testing service in partnership with Canadian Centre for Swine Improvement within Canada. Swine liquid blood, raw semen and tissue samples are all suitable for this test. More information about IGF2 gene and IGF2 testing is available here.

Swine PSS Testing

PSS is an inherited genetic disorder in swine. Pigs carrying the PSS gene are more prone to producing pale, soft and exudative (PSE) pork. PSS (HAL-1843) test accurately detects the genetic mutation associated with PSS. We provide the PSS testing service in partnership with Ontario Swine Improvement for Canada. Swine blood, semen and tissue samples are all suitable for this test. Special blot cards are available upon request.