The potential of mitochondrial DNA markers and polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism for domestic and wild species identification

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African Journal of Biotechnology


Poaching is increasingly presenting challenge to conservational authorities in Africa. Accurate and reliable methods for the identification of poached wildlife meat when morphological features are missing, has been lacking in Africa. We describe a molecular based approach that has a potential of serving as a tool for game and domestic meat identification in Africa. A mitochondrial (mt246) marker and Rsa1 restriction enzyme were used in the PCR-RFLP species identification of game and domestic meat. Species-specific reference DNA fragment patterns were obtained using fresh meat from ten major wild herbivores, representing the highly targeted wild meat species in Tanzania and four domesticated animal species. With the exception of the zebra, all species produced unique monomorphic RFLP patterns that were species specific. These reference fragment patterns enabled identification of about 75% of unknown meat samples, demonstrating the ability of the technique in discriminating between and among wild and domestic species. The results provide preliminary promising fingerprints which need further validation for future use for the control of the up-surging bush meat trade in the continent.


African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 5 (18), pp. 1588-1593, 18 September 2006


Mitochondrial DNA, PCR-RFLP, Poaching, Forensic,, Species identification