Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Barcoding endangered sea turtles

16.09.2009
Demonstrating that short genetic sequences identify migratory marine species

Conservation geneticists who study sea turtles have a new tool to help track this highly migratory and endangered group of marine animals: DNA barcodes.

DNA barcodes are short genetic sequences that efficiently distinguish species from each other—even if the samples from which the DNA is extracted are minute or degraded. Now, a recently published research paper by scientists from the American Museum of Natural History and the University of Canberra, among other organizations, demonstrates that this technology can be applied to all seven sea turtle species and can provide insight into the genetic structure of a widely-dispersed and ancient group of animals.

"This is the first study to document DNA barcodes of all species of sea turtles from around the world," says Eugenia Naro-Maciel, Marine Biodiversity Scientist at the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the Museum and first author of the paper published in the early online edition of Molecular Ecology Resources. "These barcodes can be used to document biological diversity in a standardized fashion and for the conservation of these charismatic and ecologically important marine animals."

DNA barcodes are relatively short segments of mitochondrial DNA. A region of the COI, or cox1 gene (cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1) has been agreed-upon by researchers as appropriate for barcoding, given that it is both highly variable and very specific. This portion of the genome mutates quickly enough to distinguish many closely related species but also slowly enough so that individuals within a species may have similar barcodes. Barcoding has been used to check the accuracy of caviar and red snapper labeling and to identify the presence of endangered whales in Asian markets, as well as other applications.

Through the current study, the research team found that all seven sea turtle species can be consistently distinguished from each other by DNA barcodes. Samples were collected from 249 individuals from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, as well as from the Mediterranean Sea. Variation between species ranged from 1.68% to 13%, while variation within each species was relatively low, ranging from 0 to 0.9%. The genetic sequence from green turtles of the Eastern Tropical Pacific population, which can be distinguished from other green turtles by their darker coloration, was identical to one found in Australia.

Analysis of the barcodes in this study used a comprehensive method based on diagnostic characters developed by co-author Rob DeSalle, curator in the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics at the Museum, and colleagues. This method contrasts with common approaches also employed in this study, which assign sequences to the most similar genetic group (and which may not be accurate because of the sometimes arbitrary thresholds for species identity). "With diagnostic characters, we can use gene sequences to compare different groups in a manner similar to classifying animals in the field based on their unique attributes, and in line with classical taxonomy," notes DeSalle.

Naro-Maciel adds that "by identifying these animals to species and providing a standardized registry for documenting genetic diversity within this group, DNA barcoding promises to advance conservation and research." Highly migratory sea turtles face a myriad of threats worldwide from overharvest, fisheries interactions, habitat loss, climate change, pollution, disease, and other factors, and effective conservation measures are needed. The potential for DNA barcoding applications is significant: trade in the meat, eggs, leather, shell, and bone often means that the species identity or geographic origin of a product is difficult to ascertain using conventional means. Barcoding items collected by wildlife management could provide critical information and tools to those tracking international trade in wildlife products. In addition, animals trapped as fisheries bycatch or stranded onshore may be damaged beyond recognition, but identifiable through DNA barcoding. To assist in these efforts, barcode sequences from this study have been supplied to the Barcode of Life database and GenBank so that the data are freely available.

This research was funded in part by the Royal Caribbean Ocean Fund, the Regina Bauer Frankenberg Foundation for Animal Welfare, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. In addition to Naro-Maciel and DeSalle, authors include Brendan Reid (Columbia University), Nancy FitzSimmons (University of Canberra in Australia), Minh Le, Rob DeSalle, and George Amato (American Museum of Natural History).

Kristin Elise Phillips | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.amnh.org

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Joint research project on wastewater for reuse examines pond system in Namibia
19.12.2016 | Technische Universität Darmstadt

nachricht Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon
09.12.2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>