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Title: MICROSOFT EXCEL SPREAD-SHEET BASED ANIMAL COLONY MANAGEMENT FOR GENETICALLY ALTERED MOUSE STRAINS.

Author
item Donovan, David
item ROWLEY, DANIEL
item WILLIAMS, NANCY

Submitted to: Biotechniques
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/27/2004
Publication Date: 7/1/2004
Citation: Donovan, D.M., Rowley, D.L., Williams, N.G. 2004. Microsoft excel spread-sheet based animal colony management for genetically altered mouse strains. Biotechniques. 37(1):50-56.

Interpretive Summary: The need for genetically altered animal models, particularly mice, is expected to increase in the wake of the human and murine genome projects. Many institutions find that housing and maintaining transgenic colonies too costly. There is extensive record keeping associated with these colonies, including genotyping and breeding records that are required to breed the lines correctly. Thus, essential to the efficient management (and financial survival) of a transgenic colony is the ability to rapidly generate and communicate genotyping data, breeding instructions, and breeding productivity, between the end user(s), the animal care staff, and the genotyping staff. There are a number of transgenic colony management software packages available commercially. However, there is a wide spectrum of quality and ease of use associated with each. Similarly, all software requires some level of technical support, which would again be dependent on the responsiveness of the company providing the software. We describe an inexpensive, efficient method that utilizes the universal Microsoft Excel ® spreadsheet to maintain animal genotyping and breeding data. This spreadsheet based software only requires that all staff have access to the same files, usually through a local area network. Excel is widely used, so usually there is usually never a shortage of experts to train the novice, and little training is required to use Excel at the level required for this application. We also describe a special "Flagging" option that promotes better communication between the end user, and the animal colony managers/staff. Sample spreadsheets are provided for all of the major functions, breeding, genotyping and giving instructions to staff.

Technical Abstract: Animal research has significantly advanced our understanding of mammalian systems and disease. The need for genetically altered animal models, particularly mice, is expected to increase in the wake of the human and murine genome projects. Despite the anticipated value of these projects, many institutions do not maintain a transgenic mouse colony, largely due to the costs and extensive record keeping associated with these colonies. In addition to routine animal care needs, transgenic animal colonies incur additional costs associated with the need to rapidly and accurately assess the transgenic status (genotype) of every animal produced. Thus, essential to the efficient management (and financial survival) of a transgenic colony is the ability to rapidly generate and communicate genotyping data, breeding instructions, and breeding productivity, between the end user(s), the animal care staff, and the genotyping staff. There are a number of transgenic colony management software packages available commercially. However, each falls on a broad continuum of learning curve difficulty, troubleshooting ease, and quality of technical support, in the event of a problem. We describe an inexpensive, efficient method that utilizes the universal Microsoft Excel ® spreadsheet to maintain animal genotyping and breeding data, which minimally requires that all involved have access to a local area network. The advantages of Excel is that few software packages are more readily available and widely utilized, little training is required to use Excel at the level required for this application, and every research institution has Excel experts on hand, usually even as close as their book keeping office. We also describe a special "Flagging" option that we purport promotes better communication between the end user, and the animal colony managers/staff.