NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Genesis Genomics, Genoma, and two Canadian Universities have formed a three-year venture to develop a tool and database to rapidly identify species based on their DNA sequences, Genesis Genomics said this week.
Using a CA$465,000 ($474,000) Natural Science and Engineering Strategic grant from the Canadian government, the group aims to develop and sell a handheld device that will identify a tissue sample and compare it against a database of life forms.
The resulting data will enable users to identify pathogens, imported foods, or to perform forensic entomology. Genesis Genomics, which has facilities both in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and in the UK, will work with Genoma, the University of Guelph, and the University of Western Ontario to develop the technology for a government-sponsored project called the Canadian Barcode of Life Network.
The technology will be designed to analyze 648 nucleotides of mitochondrial DNA used to classify eukaryotic organisms at the species level. Genesis Genomics will coordinate and manage the project and will get the option to commercialize the technology.
The Barcode of Life Network has currently collected more than 300,000 DNA barcodes from 30,000 species and plans to eventually make the database global, with barcodes available for all of the world’s life forms.
Much of the technology for the device and for the database is being developed by Heinz-Bernhard Kraatz of the University of Western Ontario, Robert Hanner of the Canadian Barcode of Life Network and the University of Guelph, and Kenneth Crandall of Brigham Young University and Genoma, a consulting company specializing in phylogenetic and population genetic analysis and genomic data and bioinformatics.
“The enhanced biosurveillance offered by DNA barcoding promises many diverse commercial applications, with particular relevance to regulatory enforcement, [including] agricultural pest identification and quality assurance … in the beef and seafood industries,” Genesis Genomics said in a statement.