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Identification of Protected Avian Species Using a Single Feather Barb

Authors

  • Sansook Boonseub M.Sc.,

    1. School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, Bedford Park, Adelaide 5001, SA, Australia.
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  • Greg Johnston Ph.D.,

    1. School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, Bedford Park, Adelaide 5001, SA, Australia.
    2. School of Natural and Built Environments and Barbara Hardy Institute, University of South Australia, Mawson Lakes, Adelaide 5059, SA, Australia.
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  • Adrian Linacre D.Phil.

    1. School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, Bedford Park, Adelaide 5001, SA, Australia.
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  • Funding provided by the Department of Justice, South Australia.

  • The work conducted and conclusions drawn are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the academic institutions.

Additional information and reprint requests:
Adrian Linacre, D.Phil.
Justice Chair in Forensic Science
School of Biological Sciences
Flinders University
Bedford Park
Adelaide 5001
SA
Australia
E-mail: adrian.linacre@flinders.edu.au

Abstract

Abstract:  We report on the unambiguous identification of protected avian species from as little as one barb of a feather. Many avian species are protected by international agreements and national legislation, yet they are traded illegally because of their high value. Two sections of the avian mitochondrial genome were chosen to identify bird species, being a 561-bp section of ND2 gene and a 921-bp section of the ND5 gene. Two different DNA extraction methods were compared for their ability to reliably isolate sufficient DNA to be detected in a subsequent PCR. Using a commercial kit supplied by QIAGEN, a complete sequence was obtained from one barb for the ND2 gene, whereas two barbs were required to reliably sequence the 921-bp section of the ND5 gene. The process worked on all species tested using feathers from archival museum specimens, resulted in minimal damage to the specimen and can readily be adopted by a forensic science laboratory.

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