Our project centers around the creation of a genetic testing system that can be used to perform genotyping on dairy cattle to determine which alleles of the β-casein gene they carry, so that farmers can selectively breed animals to create herds homozygous for the A2 allele of CSN2. While most of the development and initial testing of our system will be done using synthetically engineered DNA (exon 7 of the β-casein gene, the location of the A1/A2 SNP), we will eventually want to test our system on DNA from dairy cattle.
We looked in the literature and found that most bovine genetic tests are performed using hair follicles as a source of DNA (5-7). Another common source of DNA for genetic testing are buccal swabs. We think that we could use either as a source of DNA to test our system.
When completing our safety form, we contacted iGEM for a safety check-in, and prepared animal use form. Before using any animals or materials taken from animals in research, our school requires that a research plan be approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). We wrote an IACUC application planning to obtain hair and saliva samples from dairy cows located at a local organic dairy farm, with the permission of, and under the supervision of the owner of the cows. We received approval of our plan.