CCMB develops wildlife forensic test

Times of India Sunil Kumar Verma

TNN | Apr 30, 2003, 02.14AM IST

HYDERABAD: A new process developed by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) could help in increasing the conviction rate in wildlife crimes.

In a first of its kind application of DNA fingerprinting techniques, scientists zeroed in on a DNA strand found in all living organisms and worked out a system which, in a matter of 32 hours, is able to identify the species using the minutest sample of matter. All that is required to identify a species is a tiny bit of bone, flesh or even hair, CCMB director Lalji Singh said at a press conference on Tuesday. This could also be used to test the type of meat served in hotels, he said.

Singh said that CCMB was in the process of creating a DNA data bank of 50,000 species. The first step towards reaching this goal is to collate the DNA data of 25,000 species.

The challenge for the CCMB scientists Lalji Singh and his colleague S K Verma was to identify a fragment of DNA which is not only present in all known species of animals but also contained species specific signals in it. Yet another challenge was to develop a biological tool to decode this signature in a sample of unknown origin. “The exercise was completed in two years,” Singh said.

The CCMB scientists zeroed in on the cytochrome-b gene in the mitochondria of a cell. This gene has 1,140 base pairs which are found in all species but in a different sequence. The scientists mapped the differences in each species and built an initial database of 1,000 species. The scientists have applied for a patent for the process.

Courtesy: Times of India


April 30, 2003

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