Species Determination: The Role and Use of the Cytochrome b Gene

Adrian Linacre, James Chun-l Lee

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn has led to a catastrophic decline in elephant and rhino populations worldwide. These iconic high profile species are one part of the illegal trade in wildlife products that threatens these species and the ecological balance in the habitats in which they live. Identification of the species present is required to determine that the trade is illegal and contrary to national legislation. This chapter details a robust DNA technique using part of the cytochrome b gene on the mitochondrial genome that will work on poor quality samples such as powdered horn or ivory products including statues and carvings. An appropriate DNA extraction technique is required to obtain at least 1 ng of DNA from which the amplification of part of the cytochrome b gene using universal primers is performed. This produces a fragment of 486 bp in size which can be sequenced using standard technologies. The resulting sequences are then aligned to voucher specimens or sequences on reliable databases. Analyses of the data should lead to confident species identification.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationForensic DNA Typing Protocols
EditorsWilliam Goodwin
Place of PublicationNew York, NY
PublisherHumana Press: Springer
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4939-3597-0, 9781493935970
ISBN (Print)978-1-4939-3595-6, 9781493935956
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745


  • Cytochrome b
  • DNA
  • Mitochondria
  • Species identification
  • Wildlife

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