NEW YORK, May 10 - Move over, Venter, and let Rover take over.
A high-ranking scientist from the Institute for Genomic Research has confirmed that Celera and TIGR used DNA from one of Craig Venter's and Claire Fraser's pet poodles for their canine genome-sequencing collaboration.
The confirmation, quickly seconded by four separate TIGR scientists and a top official at Celera, affirms long-standing rumors that the dog, a black Standard Poodle named Shadow, has followed one of its owners into the genomic history books.
Venter, the shy one in the family, disclosed to the mainstream media late last month that Celera's human genome sequence was mostly his own. This, too, confirmed what most of the genomics industry knew to be true. Last year TIGR said that Celera had begun sequencing the genome of a 7-year-old Standard Poodle named Shadow.
According to the TIGR official, who asked to remain anonymous, TIGR, a federally funded research lab, did not use government money to perform the 1X sequence on the dog, the oldest of three in the Venter-Fraser household. Instead, the couple paid for the cost to sequence their dog's genome "out of their own pockets."
A TIGR spokesperson confirmed that Shadow belongs to Venter and Fraser and said that no government funding was used in the project. A Celera spokesman said the company has no comment.
Asked for their opinion about the news, a handful of randomly selected genomics scientists couldn't have been less excited if they learned that Venter's DNA comprised Celera's human genome sequence. One researcher, however, noted that a Beagle might have been a better choice because its DNA has been shown to be more relevant to humans'.
Standard Poodles are "very active, intelligent, and elegant-appearing dogs," according to the American Kennel Club. They are "squarely built, well proportioned, moving soundly, and carrying [themselves] proudly.
"Properly clipped in the traditional fashion and carefully groomed," the AKC notes, "the poodle has about him an air of distinction and dignity peculiar to himself."
Standard Poodles come in a dizzying array of colors--blues, grays, silvers, browns, "cafe-au-laits, apricots, and creams," according to the AKC. They also come in confusing color combinations: Brown and cafe-au-lait poodles, for example, have "liver-colored noses," "eye-rims and lips," dark toenails, and dark amber eyes.