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 Flow of cerebrospinal fluid regulates neural stem cell division
22.05.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Chemists at FAU successfully demonstrate imine hydrogenation with inexpensive main group metal
22.05.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>