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Application of multiplex PCR approaches for shark molecular identification: feasibility and applications for fisheries management and conservation in the Eastern Tropical Pacific

Authors

  • S. CABALLERO,

    1. Laboratorio de Ecología Molecular de Vertebrados Acuáticos-LEMVA, Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad de los Andes, Carrera 1 No. 18A-10, Bogotá, Colombia
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  • D. CARDEÑOSA,

    1. Laboratorio de Ecología Molecular de Vertebrados Acuáticos-LEMVA, Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad de los Andes, Carrera 1 No. 18A-10, Bogotá, Colombia
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  • G. SOLER,

    1. Fundación Malpelo y otros Ecosistemas Marinos, Carrera 7 No 32-33, piso 27, Bogotá, Colombia
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  • J. HYDE

    1. Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, 8604 La Jolla Shores Dr, La Jolla, CA 92037 USA
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Susana Caballero, Fax: 571-3394949 ext 2817; E-mail: sj.caballero26@uniandes.edu.co

Abstract

Here we describe the application of new and existing multiplex PCR methodologies for shark species molecular identification. Four multiplex systems (group ID, thresher sharks, hammerhead sharks and miscellaneous shark) were employed with primers previously described and some designed in this study, which allow for species identification after running PCR products through an agarose gel. This system was implemented for samples (bodies and fins) collected from unidentified sharks landed in the port of Buenaventura and from confiscated tissues obtained from illegal fishing around the Malpelo Island Marine Protected Area, Pacific Coast of Colombia. This method has allowed reliable identification, to date, of 407 samples to the genus and/or species levels, most of them (380) identified as the pelagic thresher shark (Alopias pelagicus). Another seven samples were identified as scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini). This is an easy-to-implement and reliable identification method that could even be used locally to monitor shark captures in the main fishing ports of developed and developing countries.

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