News

Genetic analysis of cattle - the fight against food fraud

Fraud in food sales is a huge problem around the world, but such transactions can be classified as criminal activity where the hope of profit is high, but the risks and penalties are small for the individuals who engage in the occupation. In 2013, there was a large-scale misconduct in Europe, where horsemeat was sold on a large scale as beef in European supermarkets. 

The 2013 horsemeat scandal caused a great deal of awareness among consumers and producers of beef in Europe. The case also opened the eyes of consumers to how complex and delicate the value chain of meat production really is. Many companies involved in this valuable branch of food production also realized the need for rapid, robust and cost-effective methods to verify the origin of products in the food market.

In recent years, Matís has led an international research project, fully funded by the European competition fund EIT Food. The project is called BLINK, but its goal is to develop a new traceability system for beef. The method is based on the great advances that have taken place in the last decade in genetic analysis technology and is comparable to methods that will be used in the selection of genomes in the Icelandic cow breed, which the aim is to implement in Iceland in the coming years.

The idea behind the methodology is that when slaughtering cattle, a biological sample, for example a hair sample or a tissue sample, is taken from the animal. The sample is then sent to a laboratory where the genetic material is isolated and thousands of genetic markers are analyzed in each and every grab. This genetic information is then used to create a unique "bar code" for each and every cattle that passes through a specific slaughterhouse. A genetic bar code has the advantage over traditional bar codes, which everyone knows from the supermarket, that it accompanies the meat wherever it goes and can not be changed in any way. The aforementioned genetic information, together with supporting documents, is finally placed in a database. If there is a suspicion that there is fraud somewhere in the chain from beef on a leg to a piece of meat on a plate, a sample of the meat can be sent for genetic analysis and it can be determined whether the origin of the beef is the same as the food packaging indicates.

This methodology could easily be applied to verify the origin of Icelandic beef from supermarkets or restaurants. Recent research has confirmed that the Icelandic cow population is genetically very different from other cattle. With a simple genetic test, it would be possible to confirm the origin of Icelandic beef.

The project will end in January next year. Following this, Matís' foreign partners will draw attention to the methodology among European meat producers. It is hoped that the technology will be able to be used in general in the western world in the next few years and that it can also be used for traceability of meat products of other livestock species.

Reports

Optimization of Icelandic turbot culture / Profitability increase in Icelandic sandeel farming

Published:

01/07/2012

Authors:

Sigurlaug Skírnisdóttir, Kristinn Ólafsson, Eirik Leknes, Jón Árnason, Snorri Gunnarsson, Benedikt Kristjánsson, Sigurbjörg Hauksdóttir, Steinunn Magnúsdóttir, Aðalheiður Ólafsdóttir, María Pétursdóttir, Helgi Thorarensen, Soizic Le Deuff, Arnþór Gústavsson, Gunnar Örn Kristjánsson, Trond Bjørndal, Sigríður Hjörleifsdóttir, Albert Imsland

Supported by:

Technology Development Fund

contact

Sigurlaug Skírnisdóttir

Project Manager

sigurlaug.skirnisdottir@matis.is

Optimization of Icelandic turbot culture / Profitability increase in Icelandic sandeel farming

The main goal of the project "Increasing profitability in Icelandic sandeel farming (MAXIMUS)" was to develop methods to reduce production costs in sandeel farming in Iceland. Sandhverfa is for the most part raised in pots on land and is therefore very suitable for farming in Iceland, in addition to which the market price is high (about 1500 ISK / kg) and stable. Land farming, on the other hand, is costly and therefore new and better technical solutions must be sought to increase the efficiency of farming. The MAXIMUS project worked on the development of a new light cycle control that makes it possible to increase growth by up to 20%. Work was done on the development of new feed types which sought to reduce the weight of sea protein and managed to reduce feed costs by up to 10% compared to conventional feed. This will make it possible to increase the efficiency of aquaculture in the later stages of the aquaculture process. The project also developed a multiplex genetic marker kit for a sandeel that has made it possible to genotype large numbers of juveniles quickly and safely. This genetic marker kit will be used to accelerate genetic progress in sandeel farming in the future. Market research was carried out and an attempt was made to examine the future prospects of the farm. Sandeel production will probably increase considerably in the coming years, but despite an increase in recent years, prices have remained stable. The results of the project strongly indicate that sandeel farming is economical in Iceland and the methods that have been developed in the project will increase the likelihood of development and investment in sandeel farming in Iceland.

The overall aim of this project, MAXIMUS, was to develop methods to significantly reduce production costs in farming of turbot (Scophthalmus maximus). Production of turbot in Iceland has been growing and therefore it is important to develop technology to lower the production costs. Turbot is an ideal species for farming in land ‐ based stations in Iceland, having many good characteristics as an aquaculture species and high (1500 kr / kg) and stable market value. Rearing fish in land ‐ based farms comes however with a cost and it is important to constantly strive to develop new technology to reduce cost of production. Firstly, methods to use photoperiod control to increase growth rate up to 20% compared to traditional methods were developed. Secondly, it was found that crude protein in turbot feed can be reduced by approximately 10% compared to current level in commercial feed without negative effects on growth. This will make production of a more cost efficient and less expensive feed for large turbot possible. Thirdly, multiplex genotyping systems were developed, making it possible to determine the pedigree of the parent fish during breeding to ensure genetic diversity leading to high growth rate. Finally, the current and future developments in turbot production and markets were analyzed. Production of this species is likely to increase considerably in coming years. In addition, there are important developments in technology that may impact on future supply and cost of production. An estimate of the economic implications of optimized turbot farming system in Iceland, profitability and revenue, was also investigated. Overall the results from this project will make turbot production in Iceland more feasible, and profitable, in the future.

Report closed until 01.12.2013

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Reports

Genetics kit for char

Published:

01/02/2008

Authors:

Sigurlaug Skírnisdóttir, Alexandra M. Klonowski, Sigurbjörg Hauksdóttir, Kristinn Ólafsson, Helgi Thorarensen, Einar Svavarsson, Sigríður Hjörleifsdóttir

Supported by:

Tækniþróunarsjóður Rannsóknamiðstöð Íslands

contact

Sigurlaug Skírnisdóttir

Project Manager

sigurlaug.skirnisdottir@matis.is

Genetics kit for char

The goal of the project was to create a powerful genetic kit for char with 15-20 genetic markers. Many genetic markers have been published for char and other salmonids, but the disadvantage is that no suitable reproduction gene set is known, which is a prerequisite for the efficient use of technology. It is important that the genetic markers show variability within the strain, are of a certain size but of different sizes, work well in a amplification reaction solution and are well readable after the sample has been run on a sequencer. The risk in the project was whether it would be possible to find a suitable genetic marker that could be combined into 2-3 reaction mixtures. 70 pairs of indicators were tested for 56 published genetic markers. The result of the project was that it was possible to combine 17 genetic markers into 3 reaction mixtures. A total of 140 fish were identified from the Hólar fish stock with these 17 genetic boundaries, but in addition, 12 wild fish were identified with them. The results showed that the genetic markers were used to differentiate between different groups of char. The processing of genetic analyzes clearly confirmed that Hólableikjan is mainly made up of two species. Some genetically modified wild charr yielded new isotopes not seen in farmed fish. Therefore, there are now genetic marketing kits that can be used in breeding work, in stock research on wild char and in traceability research. This will strengthen breeding work and is a powerful tool for research on char in the future.

The goal of the project was to develop genotyping protocols for Arctic charr containing multiplexes of 15-20 microsatellite markers. Many microsatellite markers have been published for salmonoid fishes, but no multiplexes are known which are of practical use when analyzing many samples at a time and therefore, to make the research profitable. The microsatellite markers must show variability among the fishes, they must be of certain sizes and of variable sizes, they must be amplifiable in multiplex PCR reactions and they must be easily readable from the machine. The risk of the project was to find published microsatellite markers which would fulfill these criteria and fit into 2-3 multiplex PCR reactions. Seventy primer pairs were tested for 56 published microsatellite markers. The results of the project were that 17 microsatellite markers which fit into 3 multiplex PCR reactions. A total of 140 fish from the brood stock of Arctic charr from the University at Holar was analyzed in the study as well as 12 samples from wild fish of different lakes and rivers. The results indicate that these markers can be used to analyze different stocks of Arctic charr. Furthermore, analyzes of the brood stock confirms that it mainly consists of two different stocks. New alleles were observed in the wild fish compared to the brood stock fish. A genotyping protocol to analyze Arctic charr for use in breeding industry, in wild fish research and in tractability analyzes, is now available. This will help in building up breeding programs and will be a helpful tool of the genetic research of Arctic charr.

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Reports

Genotyping Kits for Cod / Genotyping kits for Atlantic cod

Published:

01/06/2007

Authors:

Sigurlaug Skírnisdóttir, Inga Schulte, Sigurbjörg Hauksdóttir, Kristinn Ólafsson, Steinunn Magnúsdóttir, Klara Björg Jakobsdóttir, Christophe Pampoule, Guðmundur Ó. Hreggviðsson, Sigríður Hjörleifsdóttir

Supported by:

AVS Fisheries Research Fund

contact

Sigurlaug Skírnisdóttir

Project Manager

sigurlaug.skirnisdottir@matis.is

Genotyping Kits for Cod / Genotyping kits for Atlantic cod

The aim of the project was to develop new coding sets for cod (Gadus morhua) based on repeated DNA short sequences (microsatellites). A total of 118 genetic markers were studied. Two ten genetic marker kits have been developed (CodPrint10a and CodPrint10b) and a patent application has been filed for these genetic markers. Almost 300 Icelandic samples belonging to 3 different sampling areas (N-Iceland, SW-Iceland (shallow waters) and SW-Iceland (deep) were analyzed with these 20 genetic markers, but for comparison the samples were also analyzed with nine well-known and widely used genetic markers. These three sample groups were better distinguished by CodPrint10a and CodPrint10b genetic markers than by previously known genetic markers, and the research shows that the new genetic markers are suitable for both stock studies and parental analyzes.

The goal of the project was to develop new genotyping kits for Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) based on microsatellite markers. A total of 118 markers were analyzed. Two 10 microsatellite markers sets were developed (CodPrint10a and CodPrint10b) and they were used to analyze approximately 300 samples that were collected in the Northeast Iceland, Southwest inshore Iceland and Southwest offshore Iceland. As a comparison the samples were also analyzed with nine previously known markers. A comparison of the new microsatellite loci and the nine previously used, showed that the power of individual discrimination was much stronger with the new microsatellite loci. Indeed, the discrimination of the samples was clearer with much less overlap of the individuals. Together, these results suggest that the new microsatellite loci are powerful and suitable for both population genetic analysis and paternity analysis, due to their high polymorphism and resolution power.

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