A genetic method to empower conservation

  1. Researchers at Stanford and the National Centre for Biological Sciences at India’s Tata Institute of Fundamental Research have developed a method for extracting genetic clues from degraded and left-behind materials, such as feces, skin or saliva, and from food products suspected of containing endangered animals. The study has been published in the international journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution.
  2. The new method depends on identifying multiple, short portions of DNA segments in a single experiment. This is followed by ‘next-generation sequencing’, in which multiple fragments of DNA can be decoded simultaneously, and several times, in an automated process.
  3. The researchers had tested their method on wild tigers in India (Listed as Endangered in IUCN Red List) and overfished Caribbean queen conchs, an edible sea snail.
  4. According to the researchers, the new genetic method is quicker, easier and cost-effective. The method has potential uses in animal monitoring and can also be used to obtain intelligence on wildlife trade.