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Cornell Geneticists Share Dog DNA Collection With Scientific Community

February 1, 1999
Cornell University
A valuable collection of canine genetic information, developed by a research group at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, will soon be available to the international genetics community.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- A valuable collection of canine geneticinformation, developed by a research group at Cornell University's Collegeof Veterinary Medicine, will soon be available to the internationalgenetics community.

DNA from 16 extensive, highly informative dog pedigrees is on itsway to Ralston Purina Co., where it will constitute the principal resourceof the newly established Canine Reference Family DNA Distribution Center.Ralston Purina's offer to broker the exchange of information among theworld's geneticists caps a four-year effort by the Cornell group andcolleagues from several other research laboratories to foster internationalcollaboration among canine genetics researchers.

The idea for the canine DNA center grew out of informal discussionsbegun more than five years ago among Gustavo Aguirre and Gregory Acland ofCornell, Jasper Rine and Elaine Ostrander of the University of Californiaat Berkeley, and Linda Cork and Emmanuel Mignot of Stanford University. Atthe time, Ostrander was a postdoctoral associate in Rine's Berkeleylaboratory; she now heads a gene-mapping group at the Fred HutchinsonCancer Research Center in Seattle. Aguirre and Acland are researchers thecanine genetics program in the James Baker Institute for Animal Health inthe Cornell veterinary college.

Members of the three groups began in 1995 to lay out the groundrules for future mapping efforts, beginning with the principle thatstandard reference families would be used to validate the map or additionsto it. "Two things determine which are the best pedigrees," explainsAcland. "The first is how polymorphic, or dissimilar, the parents aregenetically and the second is the number of siblings in the family. Dogs,with their large litters, are especially useful for genetic mapping."

The arrangement between Ralston Purina and Cornell is modeled onthat of the Center for the Study of Human Polymorphism (CEPH), a geneticclearinghouse maintained at Généthon in France. DNA from the CEPHreference families, a panel of over 40 large, three-generation families,has supplied the information used by scientists worldwide to map the humangenome. Access to the genetic data stored at Ralston Purina, and to themapping information it yields, is similarly intended to coordinateinternational efforts and speed the development of the canine map.

Ralston Purina will archive and store DNA samples from every memberof each reference family. Researchers wishing to use the DNA will makeapplications to a committee. DNA will be distributed with the proviso thatany map data generated through its use must be placed in the public domain.Ralston Purina will maintain a web site for this purpose.

To date, more than 300 highly informative markers have been placedon the canine map. For the core group of scientists who have collaboratedto construct this framework, the hope is that other laboratories will soonstart filling it in with additional markers.

Says Acland, "The collaborations that have led to the recent rapidprogress in mapping the canine genome have been a very encouraging exampleof synergistic science. Our laboratory at Cornell is very pleased andproud to have been part of this effort. The support of Ralston Purina willnow enable this synergism to involve many more laboratories throughout theworld."

Related World Wide Web sites: The following sites provideadditional information on this news release. Some might not be part of theCornell University community, and Cornell has no control over their contentor availability.

Ralston Purina announcement:

Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine:

James Baker Institute:

Cornell canine genetics and reproduction center:

Story Source:

Materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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Cornell University. "Cornell Geneticists Share Dog DNA Collection With Scientific Community." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 February 1999. <>.
Cornell University. (1999, February 1). Cornell Geneticists Share Dog DNA Collection With Scientific Community. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 22, 2017 from
Cornell University. "Cornell Geneticists Share Dog DNA Collection With Scientific Community." ScienceDaily. (accessed February 22, 2017).