Ivory identification by DNA profiling of cytochrome b gene

James Lee; Hsing-Mei Hsieh; Li-Hung Huang; Yi-Chen Kuo; Jane-Hong Wu; Shih-Chien Chin; An-Hsing Lee; Adrian Linacre; Li-Chin Tsai
March 2009
International Journal of Legal Medicine;Mar2009, Vol. 123 Issue 2, p117
Academic Journal
Abstract  Ivory can be visually identified in its native form as coming from an elephant species; however, determining from which of the three extant elephant species a section of ivory originates is more problematic. We report on a method that will identify and distinguish the protected and endangered elephant species, Elephas maximus or Loxodonta sp. To identify the species of elephant from ivory products, we developed three groups of nested PCR amplifications within the cytochrome b gene that generate amplification products using highly degraded DNA isolated from confiscated ivory samples dating from 1995. DNA from a total of 382 out of 453 ivory samples were successfully isolated and amplified leading to species identification. All sequences were searched against GenBank and found to match with E. maximus and Loxodonta sp. with at least 99% similarity. The samples that were tested came from eight Asian elephants, 14 African forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis), and 360 African savannah elephants (Loxodonta africana). This study demonstrates a high success rate in species identification of ivory by a nested PCR approach within the cytochrome b gene which provides the necessary information for the protection of endangered species conservation.


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