Detection of bovine mitochondrial DNA in ruminant feeds: A molecular approach to test for the presence of bovine-derived materials

Marco Tartaglia, Ernestina Saulle, Simonetta Pestalozza, Luisella Morelli, Giovanni Antonucci, Piero A. Battaglia

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A ban on ruminant-derived proteins in ruminant feeds has been introduced as a preventive measure to avoid the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), as well as to minimize any potential risk of BSE transmission from bovines to humans. In the absence of commercially available efficient methods for identification of bovine-derived proteins in animal feeds, we developed a rapid and sensitive polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based assay which allows detection and identification of a bovine-specific mitochondrial DNA sequence from feedstuffs. The amplified product encodes for the whole ATPase subunit 8 and the amino-terminal portion of the ATPase subunit 6 proteins, which are known to exhibit a relatively low degree of conservation among vertebrates. The specific amplification of such a bovine mitochondrial sequence from reference feedstuff samples was demonstrated by means of both direct sequencing and single-strand conformational analysis of the PCR product. Specificity was also confirmed by the absence of detectable homologous PCR product when using reference feedstuff samples lacking bovine-derived meat and bonemeals, or genomic DNA samples from vertebrates whose offals are commonly included in animal feeds. This method allows detection of the presence of bovine mitochondrial DNA in feedstuffs containing less than 0.125% of bovine-derived meat and bonemeals. Furthermore, it does not appear to be considerably affected by prolonged heat treatment. DpnII and SspI restriction endonuclease digestions of the unpurified PCR product may be used routinely to confirm the bovine origin of the amplified sequence. Since this method is specific, rapid, and sensitive, it could be successfully utilized as a routine control assay to evaluate the presence of bovine-derived meat and bonemeals in ruminant feeds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-518
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Food Protection
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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