An interview study was carried out with the aim of clarifying the reasons for the limited use of phenotypic characterization of genetically-modified mice (GMM) and identifying issues hindering its implementation. A total of 15 users of GMM participated in semi-structured face-to-face interviews, which were audio-taped and transcribed. The results were extracted using content analysis by theme. The investigation confirmed that few animals were systematically phenotyped and an observational approach was found to be widespread. The primary interest of the interviewees was phenotyping for impaired animal welfare. The concept of phenotyping was widely understood and perceived as a scientific advantage. The comprehensiveness of the protocols and the resources required for phenotyping were seen as problematic. All participants addressed this issue, be it regarding lack of time, money or expertise. Also, among the negative statements were worries about the capability of the available protocols to produce the information needed by the individual scientist. Phenotyping was predicted to become much more widespread in the future and its success was expected to depend on the development of reliable, fast and inexpensive methods. The study identified different aims of phenotyping and the suitability of the published protocols for these purposes was discussed. The contradiction between the limited use of characterization and its advantages was also discussed and proposals for the improvement of future phenotyping strategies are formulated.
- phenotypic characterization
- Genetically-modified mice