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Title: Mitochondrial DNA sequences for forensic identification of the endangered whale shark, Rhincodon typus (Smith, 1828): A Case study
Authors: Kavungal Abdulkhadar, Sajeela
Rakhee, Chandran
Janardanan Nair, Rekha
Gopalakrishnan, Achamveettil
Valaparambil, Saidumohammad Basheer
Kizhakkudan, Joe Shoba
Kizhakkudan, Joe
Lakra, Wazir Singh
Keywords: DNA markerswhale sharkidentification
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Sajeela Kavungal Abdulkhadar [et al.], Mitochondrial DNA sequences for forensic identification of the endangered whale shark, Rhincodon typus (Smith, 1828): A Case study, in Pier Luigi Nimis and Régine Vignes Lebbe (eds.): “Tools for Identifying Biodiversity: Progress and Problems. Proceedings of the International Congress, Paris, September 20-22, 2010”, Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2010, pp. 353-354.
The whale shark (Rhincodon typus), the largest fish in
the ocean, has become susceptible to over-exploitation and has a
global conservation status of ‘vulnerable to extinction’ as listed by
World Conservation Union in the Red list of threatened species. The
increase in demand for its meat, skin and fins in international trade
is a severe threat to the animal and its indiscriminate capture will
have to be taken seriously as they may have a major impact in the
marine ecosystem. Rhincodon typus was nominated in Appendix
II of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
(CITES) in April 2000, to enable adequate regulation of trade of
whale shark products. Whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is enlisted as
one of the protected species in India and its fishing prohibited under
Schedule Ι of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, according to
the Order No.1-2/2001 WL1 Dated 28.05.2001, Govt. of India, so as
to conserve the species in Indian waters. still illegal fishing prevails
in Indian waters and the catch is processed in the vessel itself
and sold in markets as meat chunks. To curb the illegal trade and
marketing of fishery products from whale shark, for devising good
management practices and for the strict law enforcement, accurate
and reliable species identification methods using molecular tools are
of paramount importance. In an effort to establish a comprehensive
identification data set, we have generated a species-specific partial
sequence data of the mitochondrial genome of properly identified
stranded whale shark samples, covering the 16S rRNA (546 bp),Cyt b (541bp), COI (600bp) genes as the reference genetic profile
helping in accurate identification of any body parts of the species.
In the year 2008, flesh suspected as that of the Wildlife protected
whale shark (Rhincodon typus) was seized from fishermen by the
Forest Range Officer (Govt. of Kerala), Kannur, Kerala, India and
was brought before the Judicial First Class Magistrate, Thalassery,
Kannur, Kerala, India. The detailed sample analysis and confirmation
of species was carried out at NBFGR Cochin Unit (R.P.330/08, dt 29.
09. 2008). Based on DNA sequencing of 16S rRNA(525bp) and COI
(600bp) Cyt b(541bp) genes and comparing with the sequences earlier
generated by NBFGR (FJ375724, FJ375725, FJ375726, FJ456921,
FJ456922, and FJ456923), the suspected sample was identified as
that of endangered Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) and the result
was communicated to the court. This is the first criminal case in India
in which scientific evidence was sought in forensic identification of
the meat of an aquatic organism enlisted in the Wildlife Protection Act
of India and the DNA markers reiterated their ability to reliably identify
product/meat sample of a species, thus helping in curtailing illegal
trade of the endangered organisms.
Type: Book Chapter
ISBN: 978-88-8303-295-0
Appears in Collections:Tools for Identifying Biodiversity: Progress and Problems

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