Endangered Sea Turtles Tracked by DNA

NEW YORK, Sept. 15 (UPI) — U.S. and Australian conservation geneticists say they have discovered a new tool to aid in the tracking of migratory and endangered sea turtles — DNA barcodes.

The researchers from the American Museum of Natural History, the University of Canberra and colleagues, said DNA barcodes are short genetic sequences that efficiently distinguish species from each other.

The researchers said they have demonstrated that technology can be applied to all seven sea turtle species and can provide insight into the genetic structure of a widely-dispersed and ancient group of animals.

“This is the first study to document DNA barcodes of all species of sea turtles from around the world,” says museum scientist Eugenia Naro-Maciel, first author of the study. “These barcodes can be used to document biological diversity in a standardized fashion and for the conservation of these charismatic and ecologically important marine animals.

“By identifying these animals to species and providing a standardized registry for documenting genetic diversity within this group, DNA barcoding promises to advance conservation and research,” she added.

The study that included Rob DeSalle, Minh Le and George Amato from the museum; Brendan Reid of Columbia University; and Nancy FitzSimmons of the University of Canberra appears in the early online edition of the journal Molecular Ecology Resources.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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