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 Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

nachricht 100 % Organic Farming in Bhutan – a Realistic Target?
15.06.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

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: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Creating a new composite fuel for new-generation fast reactors

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Game-changing finding pushes 3D-printing to the molecular limit

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Could this material enable autonomous vehicles to come to market sooner?

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>