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:

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Services Offered

Animal, Fish & 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 successfully developed, validated and implemented many molecular methodologies for both routine testing and analytical needs in research projects as illustrated in our recent publications

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 standards 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 Sanger DNA Sequencing

  • ABI 3730 XL 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)

Bovine/Ruminant/Porcine/Chicken/Turkey/Rice Residue Testing

The adulteration or contamination of food and animal feed with undeclared ingredients can result in recalls and reduce consumer confidence in well-established product brands. 

For example, animal feed should contain no materials from ruminant animals in order to prevent the spread of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease) . We test feed or food samples for the presence of residual bovine or ruminant materials using DNA-based (PCR) or protein-based (ELISA) methodology. Porcine, chicken, turkey, and general animal residue testing is also available. 

Rice flour is 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 testing 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 a variety of sample types including food, feed, water, soils, environment, plants, and animal blood, tissue, semen and feces. We provide DNA extraction services not only for immediate use of DNA but also for DNA banking or long-term storage purposes.

DNA Quantification via Droplet Digital PCR (ddPCR)

We provide services for absolute quantification of DNA in a sample using ddPCR without relying on a traditional standard curve.  This allows for accurate measurements of low-abundance DNA targets. 

Environmental DNA (eDNA) Testing (microbial, fish, insects and animal species)

We analyze eDNA samples collected from aquatic environments to identify species of different biological taxa from fishes, animals and insects to microorganisms. The resulting meta-barcoding data may reflect biodiversity of an ecosystem, presence of invasive species, detection of at risk species, or risk of microbial pathogens. 

GMO Testing

Labeling of food and food ingredients containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is voluntary in some jurisdictions, and mandatory in others (European Union). Using real-time PCR, we provide qualitative or semi-quantitative DNA-based analyses of GMOs targeting the most common GMO markers (e.g. P35S) in soy and corn samples.

High Throughput DNA Sequencing

We apply high throughput sequencing (HTS) for various applications, including whole genome sequencing for microorganisms, and sequencing targeted regions within microbial, animal, fish, insect and plant genomes to identify biological genus/species or even serotypes in complex samples.

A few examples of HTS application include high-resolution comparison of bacterial strain relatedness, simultaneous detection of multiple Salmonella serotypes in a single sample from poultry environments and identification of fish species in eDNA samples.

Microbial Species Identification (bacteria, yeasts, fungi)

We conduct routine identification of "unknown" microorganisms (bacteria, yeasts and fungi) from pure cultures using DNA sequencing. You will receive objective, reproducible and cost-effective results rapidly without relying on growth, biochemical reaction and prior knowledge of an 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 a 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 are ordered on-line at our Oligo Synthesis and Sequencing page (see link below). Our 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 and phosphorylation.  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

Subtyping is often used to investigate microbial transmission of a pathogen during a production process, along a supply chain or outbreak investigations. We conduct subtyping for various pathogens or indicators, including (but not limited to): 

  • Salmonella
  • E. coli O157:H7
  • Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC or VTEC)
  • Camplylobacter
  • Listeria innocua
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Giardia
  • Mycoplasma

PCR Detection of Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba is used in many natural health products and considered highly vulnerable to adulteration. We use real-time PCR to detect G. biloba in natural health product materials, such as leaf, bark and extract.

PCR Detection of Probiotic Species/Strains in Probiotic Health Products

Probiotic organisms are bacteria species or strains that are used in many probiotic products due to their potential health benefits. Species or strain-level identification of probiotic organisms is of paramount importance to ensure probiotic efficacy and safety. Our assays cover (but not limited to) the following organisms:

  • Bacillus subtilis
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Bifidobacterium breve
  • Bifidobacterium infantis
  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus brevis
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus
  • Lactobacillus fermentum
  • Lactobacillus gasseri
  • Lactobacillus helveticus
  • Lactobacillus paracasei
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus reuteri
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus salivarius
  • Pediococcus pentosaceus
  • Streptococcus thermophilus

Plant Species Identification

Our DNA-based plant ID test determines species of unknown plant materials such as vegetables, fruits, grains, trees and others. 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, but 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 include, but are not limited to:

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

Semi-Quantitative Detection of Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) (Drosophila suzukii)

SWD is an invasive fly that causes loss of fruit production. We use a qPCR method for detection or semi-quantitative enumeration of SWD in trap samples.

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. Swine liquid blood, raw semen and tissue samples are all suitable for this test. 

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. Swine blood, semen and tissue samples are all suitable for this test. Special blot cards are available upon request.