Author: Sansook Boonseub

Boonseub, Sansook, 2012 FORENSIC IDENTIFICATION OF AVIAN SPECIES USING MITOCHONDRIAL LOCI, Flinders University, School of Biological Sciences

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Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) loci are used routinely for species testing in mammalian species. This project examines their use in avian identification for forensic purposes, particularly as certain avian species are the subject of an illegal trade. Comparison of amino acid sequences for a range of mitochondrial genes taken from avian species indicated that along with two commonly used gene loci (cyt b and COI), two members of the NADH dehydrogenase family (ND2 and ND5) showed greater variation. Alignment of entire avian mitochondrial sequences illustrated the potential for using such large sequences, but comparison of individual genes using 102 avian species further supported ND2 and ND5 as having greater interspecies variation and less intra-specific variation. Support for these two loci was further provided when looking at closely related avian species. As each gene is relatively large, sections of these loci were selected for ability to identify and distinguish closely related avian species and reconstruct accurate phylogenetic trees. A 452 bp section at the 5' terminus from both ND2 and ND5, at base positions 58-509 and 101-552 respectively, were superior compared to the other mitochondrial loci in species identification, including closely related members of the Fringillidae, Psittacidae and Cacatuidae families and in accurate phylogenetic tree reconstruction. DNA extracts were obtained from individual barbs and calamus of feathers. Samples included both fresh from known species, feathers from unknown species collected in Adelaide, and archived the museum samples. Successful amplification of sections of the ND2 (561 bp) and ND5 genes (921 bp) was achieved. Sequence data comparison of the PCR products confirmed accurate species identification.

Keywords: Forensic identification,Mitochondrial loci,ND2,ND5,Avian species

Subject: Biological Sciences thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2012
School: School of Biological Sciences
Supervisor: Prof. Adrian Linacre