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Using DNA in fight against illegal logging
Date:6/30/2011

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 ce
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Contact: Andrew Lowe
andrew.lowe@adelaide.edu.au
61-883-131-149
University of Adelaide
Source:Eurekalert  

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