A Dog's Tale
A team of scientists, lead by Professor Leif Andersson of the functional genomics group in the department of medical biochemistry and microbiology at Uppsala University, was able to prove, using genetic material from dogs, that it is possible to map traits efficiently using a two-stage strategy. In the first stage, genome-wide mapping with a relatively sparse marker set (~15,000 SNPs) in a single breed, using as few as 10 “affected” and 10 control animals, identified a ~1 Mb region of association.
In the second stage, the region of association was narrowed to a few hundred kilobases by performing fine mapping with a dense set of SNPs across multiple breeds. Full sequencing of this narrow region then enables the genes and related mutations for certain phenotypic traits to be proposed.
Manual DNA preparations, which are the basis of such work, are notoriously laborious and time consuming. In projects that rely on a large amount of high-quality DNA, this is not only rate-limiting but also introduces a significant amount of unavoidable human error.
Automating the standard chemical or column methods, however, is difficult since they involve multiple steps, many of which require centrifugation or other condensation/concentration processes.