The following information reflects the opinion of Dr. Leslie Lyons and is not an endorsement for any laboratory and may or may not reflect the opinion of any school. Dr. Lyons has many colleagues in animal testing laboratories throughout the world.
How to select a DNA testing laboratory
A variety of commercial laboratories will provide DNA parentage, identification and genetic tests for coat colors, PKD and other diseases. Below is a listing of laboratories known to Dr. Lyons’ to have established DNA testing for cats, and/or are preparing to provide the services. This list is not meant to be exhaustive and does not reflect any endorsement by the investigator or the University of Missouri-Columbia. The following information should be considered when selecting the DNA testing laboratory that best suits your and your cats’ needs.
1. Get a DNA fingerprint with your cat test
The results from the PKD or any other test test can be easily confused or purposely swapped between cats, thus breeders should strongly consider a genetic test that includes an identification panel of DNA markers, a.k.a. a DNA fingerprint. The DNA fingerprint is a unique identifier for the cat and can be confirmed at any time. By using the DNA fingerprint test in addition to the genetic test, parentage can be confirmed and the pedigrees validated. Horse registries have been using DNA identification for many years to validate pedigrees. Dogs registries are also now performing DNA testing. Collection of the DNA samples can be performed by the breeders since a DNA fingerprint can always be challenged and proven. This eliminates any need for collection of samples by a third party, such as a veterinarian.
A standardized cat identification / parentage panel has been developed by the Lyons’ laboratory and has been validated by a comparison test with over a dozen laboratories worldwide. Thus, a cat tested in the US should have the exact same results if re-tested in another laboratory in another part of the world. The cat DNA fingerprint test will help validate pedigrees and genetic test results from any part of the world.
2. Confirm the reputation of the laboratory
The first or cheapest laboratory to offer testing is not always the best! Well established DNA testing laboratories exist worldwide. These laboratories have had years of DNA-based testing in other species, such as horses and dogs. Breeders are encouraged to identify laboratories that have experience and/or can demonstrate proficiency with both genetic testing and DNA identification.
3. Pick a laboratory with good customer service, knowledge of cat and/or animal breeding, and are willing to counsel.
Cattery management and genetic counseling will be an important service once results are provided by the laboratory to the breeder. A service laboratory should be very willing to provide additional information, feedback and assistance with test interpretation and the implications for the breeding program.
4. Re-invest in cat research when possible
Some laboratories are not for profit, such as the UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory. All proceeds from animal DNA testing are used to improve research within the university and are not available to augment salaries of any VGL employee, Dr. Lyons or the laboratry employees of Dr. Lyons. A majority of the “profits” are reinvested in feline research to develop genetic tests.
DNA Test Costs
Each testing laboratory can establish their own price for the cost of the genetic test. Since the DNA swabs are stable and can be shipped in the regular mail, breeders are advised to focus on reliability, reputation, customer service and investment in cat research for future genetic testing during the selection of their testing laboratory. Laboratories are generally willing to negotiate for lower testing costs if multiple tests are requested, such as coat color tests (agouti, brown, and color). Additionally, if groups or registeries can organize “bulk” shipments of samples and assist with data management, lower rates can be negotiated. After paying the licensing fee for the test, each laboratory will have to pay annual royalities for each genetic test. After patent and associated costs are recovered by the University of California, testing revenue from license fees and royalites are shared with the University and the patent investigators. Patent investigators have the option to re-invest revenue into feline research.
DNA Testing Laboratory Contacts
Presented here are testing laboratories that have participated in the International Society of Animal Genetics Cat comparison test for the development of the cat parentage / identification panel and laboratories that are known to do other cat genetic testing. The list is not exhasutive and not meant as an endorsement. If you would like you laboratory added to the list, please contact the Lyons’ Laboratory at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information about cat genetic tests can be found on the “Other Resources” page.