Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Dirty 22

Meet the Dirty 22. 

The US Food and Drug administration has identified the 22 most common pests  contributing to the spread of foodborne pathogens. Most common foodborne biological hazards are bacterial or microbial pathogens and all 22 species have been identified as carriers of the most common and concerning pathogens.
So far the FDA visually inspected samples via microscopy to identify insect carcasses and parts for the detection of these species. This method is very time-consuming and may lead to inaccurate or insufficient identification through a lack of appropriate expertise. The FDA is already using DNA Barcoding to identify seafood and it seems a logical step to extend this into other branches of the agencies work. 

Together with a few of my colleagues here in Guelph, the FDA generated DNA Barcodes for all 22 species and developed a systematic primer strategy to obtain them. It is no surprise for me that they have been successful but it is worth to mention that the tests they conducted resulted in a very simple protocol with one primer cocktail working for 17 of the species. Two alternative cocktails were necessary to yield results for the remaining five species.

The result is a regulatory database that used vouchered specimens to make this approach potentially useful for either supplementing or replacing morphological methods in the routine work at the FDA. They already plan to generate a more comprehensive library of DNA Barcodes of other common pests that contribute to the spread of foodborne disease.

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