The illegal importation of bushmeat endangers public health, animal health and species conservation. It is important to be able to identify and distinguish species of bushmeat both at entry points into the country and in certain ethnic markets in order to assess the risks associated with it. Recent developments in molecular techniques have allowed key species to be identified, and enabled monitoring of the bushmeat trade. <P> This project is one of a number of projects commissioned by the Agency to transfer existing DNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based methods to a simple yet robust lab-on-a-chip capillary electrophoresis system.
Research Approach: <BR>Eleven species were identified as being those most likely to be traded. These included chimpanzee, gorilla, bushbuck, African sheep, dwarf zebu, zebu, duiker (4 sub-species), bush pig, cane rate (2 sub-species), and porcupine. PCR was used to amplify a common section of the cytochrome B gene. Two separate restriction enzymes were used to cut the amplified section to create different DNA fragments in each species, which can be sized by the lab-on-a-chip system. A unique Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) fragment profile was established for each species and a database was created.
<P> Results and Findings: <BR> The method permitted all eleven species of bushmeat to be successfully identified using the lab-on-a-chip technology. The method was validated to ensure that it is suitable for use by trialling it in a public analyst laboratory. A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) has been produced.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.