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Molecular Diagnostics and Analysis

The use of molecular analysis in illegal wildlife trade investigations is becoming increasingly common as species identification through morphological traits can be extremely challenging during wildlife trade seizures.

Most of the products seized are usually degraded or highly processed and may not be discernible. Forensic molecular testing provides added advantage to species identification as it does not require intact samples, as DNA can be extracted from degraded and highly processed products for identification.

The molecular analysis and research performed at the Centre for Wildlife Forensics primarily focuses on:

  • Development and validation of protocols to identify focus wildlife and timber species through specific DNA targets and genetic markers
  • Build and curate reference libraries of various wildlife species with advanced molecular technologies
  • Analysis of genomic data for parentage testing and population studies
  • Development of capability in radiocarbon analysis to trace origin and age of specimens through partnerships with local and overseas experts

 

Species that we have worked with in wildlife forensics include:

  • Pangolins
  • Rhinoceros
  • Elephants
  • Sharks and rays

 

Our scope of work covers the recovery of DNA from a diverse range of sample types, such as:

  • Fresh tissue, blood and dried blood spots
  • Horns and bone structures
  • Desiccated tissues and skins
  • Scales
  • Other processed products (carvings, ornaments etc.)

 

Current capabilities of our molecular laboratory includes:

  • PCR amplification
  • Gel and capillary electrophoresis
  • Sanger sequencing
  • Genotyping using microsatellites
  • Next generation sequencing
  • Phylogenetic and phylogeographic studies

 

Last updated on 12 August 2020

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