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Molecular Identification of Indian Crocodile Species: PCR-RFLP Method for Forensic Authentication

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South East Asian countries are known for illegal poaching and trade of crocodiles clandestinely, to be used in skin, medicinal, and cosmetic industries. Besides crocodiles being listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, India has its Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 for conservation of crocodile species. Hitherto, lack of any rapid and reliable technique for examinations of crocodile-based crime exhibits such as skin, bones, etc. has been a major problem for an effective promulgation of law on illegal trade. DNA-based identification of species using PCR-RFLP technique for an apt identification of all the three Indian crocodile species namely, Crocodylus porosus, Crocodylus palustris and Gavialis gangeticus is presented here. A 628 bp segment of cytochrome b gene was amplified using novel primers followed by restriction digestion with three enzymes i.e., HaeIII, MboI, and MwoI, separately and in combination. The technique has produced a species-specific pattern for identifying the three crocodile species individually, which fulfills the requirement for its forensic application. It is expected that the technique will prove handy in identification of all the three Indian crocodile species and strengthen conservation efforts.

Keywords: Indian crocodiles; conservation; cytochrome b; forensic science; restriction fragment length polymorphism; species identification

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: National DNA Analysis Centre, Central Forensic Science Laboratory, 30 Gorachand Road, Kolkata 700 014, West Bengal, India.

Publication date: 2009-09-01

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