DNA analysis finds dog poop offenders

Dog owners disgusted by scooping your dog's poop, take note: If you live in a managed community where there is a known problem of dog walkers who won't clean up after them, your dog may soon have to give a DNA sample or risk serious consequences.

1303bowend Fig2

Dog owners disgusted by scooping your dog's poop, take note: If you live in a managed community where there is a known problem of dog walkers who won't clean up after them, your dog may soon have to give a DNA sample or risk serious consequences.

Dog owners who won't scoop poop are a widespread problem. So PooPrints, a spinoff of BioPet Vet Lab, a biotechnology company that specializes in animal genomics (both of Knoxville, TN), set out to solve this problem. First, each DNA sample taken from each dog on the premises of a participating managed property is logged in a registry. Once the registry is complete, any dog poop later found on the property is checked using DNA analysis against the registry data.

1303bowend Fig2
BioPet Vet Lab scientists work to find a DNA match for PooPrints-friendly communities across the country.

To perform the one- to two-week analysis, the company uses the argon-ion laser-based 3730 DNA Analyzer from Life Technologies (Carlsbad, CA; the system was originally from Applied Biosystems, which merged with Invitrogen to become Life Technologies in 2008), a 48-capillary system that enables analysis of 96 samples per hour, for microsatellite analysis (repeating sequences of two to six base pairs of DNA, which are commonly used as molecular markers in genomics). Then, a fluorescent dye is incorporated into the amplified fragment, explains Eric Mayer, MMB, director of business development at BioPet Vet Lab. Finally, the analyzer's laser fires at the amplified fragments, and the back-reflected data is captured by the analyzer's backside-thinned CCD camera. All captured data from the analyzer exports to Life Technologies' GeneMapper software, he continues, where the data is translated into an actual usable genotype, or DNA profile, based on the researchers' predefined parameters. If an offender on the registry is found based on the analysis, the dog's owner risks a fine or, in some cases, rental termination.

1303bowend Fig
A BioPet Vet Lab researcher prepares a plate of pet waste samples for DNA analysis. (Both images courtesy of BioPet Vet Lab/PooPrints)

Mayer says that PooPrints is expanding at a fast pace, as it is now in use in hundreds of managed communities in over 35 U.S. states as well as in Canada, Israel, and Singapore. The company plans to continue to add in different species testing that may include cat identification as an option, he adds. For more information, please visit www.pooprints.com.

More in Fluorescence