Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Using DNA in Fight Against Illegal Logging

01.07.2011
Advances in DNA 'fingerprinting' and other genetic techniques led by Adelaide researchers are making it harder for illegal loggers to get away with destroying protected rainforests.

DNA fingerprinting for timber products has grown in international recognition due to research led by the University of Adelaide that traces individual logs or wood products back to the forests where they came from.

Professor Andrew Lowe, Director of the University's Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity, and Dr Hugh Cross, Molecular Biologist at the State Herbarium of South Australia, have been working with Singapore company Double Helix Tracking Technologies (DoubleHelix), a leader in applied genetics for forest trade and conservation.

In a new paper published in the journal of the International Association of Wood Anatomists, Professor Lowe and Dr Cross say DNA science has made a number of key advances in the fight against illegal loggers.

"Molecular marker methods have been applied to freshly cut wood for a number of years, and it's now also possible to extract and use genetic material from wood products and old samples of wood," Professor Lowe says.

"We can use 'DNA barcoding' to identify species, 'DNA fingerprinting' to identify and track individual logs or wood products, and we can also verify the region the wood was sourced from.

"The advancement of genetics technologies means that large-scale screening of wood DNA can be done cheaply, routinely, quickly and with a statistical certainty that can be used in a court of law. Importantly, these methods can be applied at a customs entry point to the country – certification documents can be falsified, but DNA cannot."

An estimated 10% of wood imported into Australia consists of illegally traded timber, which has been cut down outside designated logging areas or outside agreed environmental controls. Australian companies have been the first in the world to purchase timber products that use DNA fingerprinting, as part of proof of legal origin starting back in 2007 – European and American importers are now following suit.

Jonathan Geach, a Director of DoubleHelix, says: "As the technology is now proven scientifically and commercially, we're looking at a large-scale application in the Congo Basin, as well as working with governments in Europe and America to tighten the grip on illegal timber trade.

"Having Professor Lowe as a leading researcher from the University of Adelaide and as an active member of our team has been tremendously important in driving the role of DNA tracing in timber internationally."

Professor Lowe says a number of improvements in genetic marker methods still need to be made, such as for old or degraded wood samples. "Nevertheless, the advances in the use of DNA to identify wood are exciting," he says.

This research is closely aligned with another major project, to develop a 'DNA barcode' for every tree and grass species on earth. "The Barcode of Life projects will take five years to complete, but the information will lead to a step change in the way we can manage our species and ecosystems right across the globe," Professor Lowe says.

The University of Adelaide will host the 4th International Barcode of Life Conference later this year (28 November to 3 December). It's the first time this conference will be held in the Southern Hemisphere.

Media contacts:

Professor Andrew Lowe
Director, Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity
The University of Adelaide
Phone: +61 8 8313 1149
andrew.lowe@adelaide.edu.au
Jonathan Geach
Director of Communications
Double Helix Tracking Technologies, Singapore
Phone: +65 6227 9706
j@doublehelixtracking.com

Jonathan Geach | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.adelaide.edu.au
http://www.doublehelixtracking.com

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bolstering fat cells offers potential new leukemia treatment
17.10.2017 | McMaster University

nachricht Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes
17.10.2017 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Neutrons observe vitamin B6-dependent enzyme activity useful for drug development

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters

17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>