Visiting with Neogen GeneSeek

A group of American Brahman Breeders Association representatives and members visited the Neogen GeneSeek Operations lab in Lincoln, Nebraska, August 10, 2017.
The delegation included ABBA Recording Secretary Armelinda Ibarra, recently appointed Executive Vice President William “Bill” Bunce, Jim-Bob Trant, Steve Wilkins, Johnny Jefcoat, Richard Forgason, Lana Jo Forgason, Laura Anderson and The Brahman Journal’s editor Victoria Lambert.
Neogen GeneSeek Operations is the world’s leading commercial agricultural genomics lab, with more than 140 scientists and technicians around the globe. The company has labs in the USA, Scotland, Brazil and Australia, as well as representatives in a plethora of countries including Mexico, Canada and many more.
They are one of two companies approved by the ABBA for DNA-parentage testing. In addition to parentage, the company offers a variety of genomic testing for important maternal, performance and carcass traits in seedstock and commercial cattle.
Neogen GeneSeek Operations processes over 2 million DNA samples per year and has highly automated facilities to manage that volume, as well as deep investment in experts, tools and technologies that make DNA testing for cattle producers accurate, affordable and reliable.
Extraction Lab Manager Niraj Patel lead the group’s tour of the 33,000 sq ft Neogen facility. The assembly met with members of the company’s staff, including Dr. Stewart Bauck – Vice President of Agrigenomics; Dr. JR Tait – Director of Genetics Product Development; Trina Blankenship – Customer Support and Sample Reception Manager; Tom Schultz – Director of Sales and Marketing; Jamie Bishop – Marketing Consultant; Stephanie Schuler – Customer Support Representative; and Jill Ginn – the Texas Territory Manager and point of contact for ABBA members.
ABBA delegates were excited to hear about the new technology and applications being pioneered at the Neogen GeneSeek lab.
In the past, most Brahman DNA parentage tests have only utilized Short Tandem Repeat (STR) technology, but Neogen GeneSeek is utilizing both STR and Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism testing (SNP, often referred to as a snip).
SNP-based tests are often faster, have higher accuracy than the older STR tests and deliver more information. For example, SNP-based platforms allow for parentage, genomic profiling, screening for defects and other genetic conditions, all in one step.
Under STR methods, each of those pieces of information would have needed a separate test process. Therefore, when purchasing a combination of DNA tests, SNP-based tests also are more affordable.
Dr. Bauck led the group through a thorough discussion of how parentage testing works, ideas for transition from STR parentage to SNP-based platforms and illustrated examples of success working through this process. The group had many questions in the highly interactive session.
Neogen GeneSeek is also offering a revolutionary new method for collecting DNA samples, which is faster, easier and cleaner for producers collecting DNA at chute side. This new method utilizes an Allflex tissue sampling unit applicator, which is similar to a standard ear tag gun.
A breeder simply loads a vial, known as a TSU punch, into the applicator gun. The gun is then placed over the center of an animal’s ear, approximately 1 inch from the edge, taking care to avoid any obvious veins and ridges. When the applicator gun’s handles are squeezed together, it cuts a small tissue sample from the ear and deposits it directly into the TSU punch vial. See a video tutorial of Tissue Sampling Collection here.
The TSU vials should then be mailed to the lab in Nebraska along with necessary form, which you can request directly from the ABBA’s Houston office or download from the ABBA’s website under the “Reg/Transfer” tab. Click “DNA” on the drop-down menu to access the page.
Neogen GeneSeek uses a robot to uncap the sample, extracts DNA for testing, recaps the vial and keeps the tissue sample on file for future use.
The process is simple and requires less fuss than the standard hair and blood cards, which also are more subject to potential cross contamination than TSUs and generally less convenient for producers. It also allows breeders to keep samples on file to be used if new tests become available down the line.
In addition to these technological advances, Neogen is working to develop new, Bos indicus-specific DNA technology, which will be unveiled in the future.
Breeders interested in learning more about Neogen GeneSeek technology can contact the ABBA’s account representative Jill Ginn

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