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Molecular Identification of Three Indian Snake Species Using Simple PCR–RFLP Method

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Three endangered Indian snake species, Python molurus, Naja naja, and Xenochrophis piscator are known to be significantly involved in illegal trade. Effective authentication of species is required to curb this illegal trade. In the absence of morphological features, molecular identification techniques hold promise to address the issue of species identification. We present an effective PCR–restriction fragment length polymorphism method for easy identification of the three endangered snake species, Python molurus, Naja naja, and Xenochrophis piscator. A 431-bp amplicon from cytochrome b gene was amplified using novel snake-specific primers following restriction digestion with enzymes Mbo II and Fok I. The species-specific reference fragment patterns were obtained for the target species, which enabled successful identification of even highly degraded shed skin sample confirming the utility of the technique in case of poor-quality DNA. The assay could be effectively used for forensic authentication of three Indian snake species and would help strengthen conservation efforts.
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Keywords: cytochrome b; forensic science; molecular identification; polymerase chain reaction; restriction fragment length polymorphism; snake species

Document Type: Research Article

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

Publication date: 2010-07-01

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