"There is consensus on using the same fragment of DNA, COX1, to construct a library of life," says co-author George Amato, Director of the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics at the American Museum of Natural History. "This is an example of where new genetic technology can be transformative to society, by using barcodes to catalog the diversity of ecosystems, to monitor invasive species, to search for pathogens in the food supply, and to observe wildlife trafficking for the pet trade and other commercial markets."
In the current study, Eaton, Amato, and colleagues sequenced the barcode region in 204 samples that represent as many as 25 commonly traded mammals and reptiles. Samples came from blood and tissue collected in Central Africa, museum specimens, and leather products confiscated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Although not all are currently endangered, many are embargoed from international trade. These species, which include duikers, spiral-horned antelope, red river hogs, old world monkeys, alligators and crocodiles, represent a large swath of some of the more commonly traded animals in tropical Africa and America. Sequences generated from this study will be added to the Barcode of Life Data Systems, an online, open-access database of barcodes.
As expected, the barcode region accurately identified each species; the variability of the genetic region was low within species but differed by an average of 9.8% among closely related species. The findings, however, point to the need for additional genetic research. African Nile crocodile sequences confirmed previous suggestions of an eastern and western species, and this study determined that the species divide lies between s
|Contact: Kristin Elise Phillips|
American Museum of Natural History