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ESR SPECIAL PrePrint (2008) - Abstract

SNP-based method for the genetic identification of ramin Gonystylus spp. timber and products: applied research meeting CITES enforcement needs

Rob Ogden1,5,*, H. Noel McGough2, Robyn S. Cowan2, Lilian Chua3, Madeleine Groves2, Ross McEwing4,5

1National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 1490 E. Main St., Ashland, Oregon 97520-1310, USA

ABSTRACT: We describe the development of a genetic assay for the identification of the tropical hardwood ramin Gonystylus spp., a CITES-listed genus subject to illegal international trade. Samples representing different ramin species, confamilial genera and morphologically similar taxa were obtained. DNA extraction from leaf material and wood products was achieved using commercially available kits. Five chloroplast genes were examined for Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) loci capable of discriminating ramin. A locus within the matK gene was selected and a TaqMan® assay designed for sample genotyping. The assay was validated against different species to demonstrate its specificity and reproducibility. The final assay provides a robust, cost-effective, transferable method for identifying processed ramin. The research represents a feasibility study, addressing each of the steps required to develop a genetic identification assay for enforcement use; however, it should be noted that further work is required to produce a fully validated forensic identification tool.

KEY WORDS: Illegal trade · Logging · Forensics · Endangered species · Species identification

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This article appears in ESR SPECIAL:
Forensic Methods in Conservation Research