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DNA Research

The MU Metagenomics Center is a one-stop shop for DNA science

Becky Dorfmeyer

Becky Dorfmeyer, who graduated from MU in May, performs DNA extraction at Discovery Ridge.

An invitation-only celebration will be held Aug. 4 at Discovery Ridge to introduce university faculty to the MU Metagenomics Center (MUMC).

The MUMC was created by Aaron C. Ericsson, research assistant professor of veterinary pathobiology at the College of Veterinary Medicine, and Craig Franklin, professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology. It offers DNA extraction and sequencing services for researchers at MU and outside the university. The DNA can be collected from almost any biological sample, such as human and animal feces, stomach contents and even soil.

“Center” is a bit of a misnomer since its services utilize several facilities across campus to produce the data. Among them are the DNA Core Facility and the Informatics Research Core Facility, both in the Bond Life Sciences Center. DNA extraction takes place in a 700-square-foot lab in a building at Discovery Ridge, a developing research park in Columbia.

Founded two years ago, the MUMC works closely with the MU Mutant Mouse Resource and Research Center and the MU Rat Resource and Research Center to identify the influence of gut microbes on animal models. One year ago, MUMC received a Mizzou Advantage grant based on the One Health/One Medicine initiative to extend their work to other species. Comparative medicine informs the work. “Every study we have been working on with animals has some applicability to human health,” Ericsson said.

Aaron C. Ericsson

Aaron C. Ericsson cofounded the MU Metagenomics Center.

In April, MUMC launched its website, mumc.missouri.edu.

Campus and noncampus scientists who submit a sample can usually receive results in two to three weeks. “We can tell them exactly what microbes are associated with that sample,” Ericsson said.

Recent samples have come from MU veterinary internal medicine specialists working with cats, dogs and horses.

By utilizing existing science facilities across campus, cost is held to a minimum. “The fact that we have these core facilities, expertise and know-how in the DNA methodologies, it helps us keep prices really low,” Ericsson said.

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