New Ways to Track Animals Through DNA


Experts use new techniques to track certain types of fauna without having to scoop them up. Using a process called Environmental DNA, all experts can obtain the genetic traces left by the animals, which can be used to protect and secure them.

Expert Mark Stoekle threw out a bucket tied with rope to the East River that divides New York City, to understand more or less about the fish that live there. But he will only collect small parts of DNA left by the fish in the river.

Then he put the river water into plastic bottles to be investigated further in the laboratory, to explore what he called Environmental DNA.

Stoekle said, “By analyzing the DNA that you find in that water, we can find out the types of fish found there.”

Stoekle and a number of his students wanted to find out whether certain fish had returned to breed in the East River, which had been the dirtiest due to pollution. For example, water collected from the river can be found in fish scales and fish skin cells containing genetic ingredients.

“From that glass of river water, we can find what looks like dust spots, which we can then take the DNA to analyze, just as the police did when checking the scene of the crime,” he added.

Meanwhile, in a river in Vietnam, all experts are digging soft-skinned turtles called Yangtze turtles, the rarest and can only be found in certain places in Asia.

Tracie Seimon, a Wildlife Conservation Society official at the Bronx Zoo in New York, said, “We will be able to help secure these soft-skinned Yangtze turtles from extinction if we can find where they live.”

‘Barcode DNA’ Prevents Smuggling of Rare Animals

“DNA barcode” can help counter the smuggling of rare fortified fauna in Indonesia to other countries. This was revealed by genetic and molecular researchers from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences Mochammad Syamsul Arifin Zein.

“DNA barcodes will greatly help officers in the quarantine element to ward off rogue illegal traders who want to smuggle rare protected fauna, such as yellow crested parrots,” he said in Yogyakarta on Friday (25/10).

When handing over the general lecture of the Faculty of Biology Postgraduate Program at Gadjah Mada University (UGM), he said, it could be that the yellow-crested parrot had yellow neck feathers painted in other colors to trick the officers. “However, the matter will be known by ‘DNA barcode.’ Thus, the smuggling of rare fortified birds can be thwarted,” he said.

Based on information from him, the “Cytochrome c Oxidase subunit I” (COI) gene marker from the “mitochondrial DNA genome” (mtDNA) is a DNA that is used as a “DNA barcode.” “DNA barcode “is also one of the substitute choices for identifying classic taxonomies that are not practical enough.

“DNA barcode” also provides many benefits, including about species, assuring food security, ensuring the existence of larva species, controlling agricultural pests, and tracking the origin of disease vectors and pest attacks in an area.

“DNA barcode” is also able to witness certain types of caterpillars contained in the fruit. “The technique of ‘DNA barcode’ is also able to become a bridge between unknown species with not many experienced taxonomies,” he said.

He said, “DNA barcode” is the latest system in the identification of almost all fauna species, both interspecific and intraspecific, quickly and accurately. “With ‘DNA barcode,’ identifying hundreds of thousands of taxonomies will be easier,” Zein said.

Researcher at the UGM Faculty of Biology Budi Setiadi Daryono wrote: “DNA barcode” can be used in many human life needs through the facility of identifying and characterizing all life formats ranging from eggs, larvae, pupae to adulthood.

“In fact, it can be used to identify fragments of unknown body elements. ‘DNA barcodes’ will facilitate identification of living things, especially to anticipate the removal of Indonesian genetic assets (biopiracy),” he said.

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