We have an extensive range of PCR primers to enable species diagnostics using DNA sequence and quantitative PCR approaches.
We utilise a combination of our own databases, Barcode of Life Database (BOLD), collaborations with museums and other institutes, as well as GenBank to provide reference sequences for comparison. Where possible, we only use sequences that have been validated by being cross-referenced to a formally identified specimen.
We ensure our facilities meet the standards required under this scheme.
- Predator detection from forensic samples like saliva swabs of wound sites, hair snags and scat samples
Recent developments from human forensics have enabled us to use DNA from a wider range of sample sources. We have successfully used saliva swabs from eggshell fragments and dead birds to identify potential predators. Hair and scat samples can also be used to identify the presence of a predator, ie. detection in an area thought to be free from predators
- Gut content analysis for identification of food items
Where other methods may be time-consuming, DNA samples derived from gut contents can identify diet using PCR and sequence data from mitochondrial DNA gene regions. We are also able to offer next-generation amplicon sequencing services using the 454 GS Junior that enables deeper coverage where diet is unknown and can process larger numbers of samples.
- Wildlife forensics
We provide species identification of border seizures like traditional medicines for breaches of CITES regulations. Cases have included bear bile detection, ivory identification, traditional Asian medicine composition, and various plant material (wood, dried bulbs, etc).
- Identification of invertebrate species from samples, such as eggs, larvae and fragments using DNA barcoding methods
We routinely use the barcoding region of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase I (COI) to identify potential biosecurity pests from a range of sample types for Ministry of Primary Industries (formally MAF) since 1998. Our advantage with invertebrate samples is the co-location with the New Zealand Arthropod Collection (NZAC) from which we can source voucher specimens for comparative analysis. We also have access to databases for key Lepidoptera pests, in particular the Tortricidae and Lymantriidae.
- Advanced DNA-based technologies to identify plants, fish and molluscs
- Identification of animal species from food items
We are sometimes requested to identify potential food contaminants that may have originated from another animal species. For example, evidence of porcine DNA for verifying halal status.