ZSI expanding DNA barcoding database

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Kolkata, March 14 (IANS) The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) is expanding its database of genetic sequences to enable precise identification of animals using DNA barcoding which will aid in wildlife crime detection and control, an official said here on Monday.

“We have uploaded 600 sequences on the US’ National Centre for Biotechnology Information portal. We are targeting 500 sequences per year. It is an ongoing process,” ZSI director-in-charge Kailash Chandra told the media during a workshop.

Chandra said DNA barcodes, which are specific genetic signatures, can not only help in identification of a species but also the particular habitat from which it hails.

“Suppose if there is an incidence of poaching from Kanha tiger reserve and the tiger has been smuggled to West Bengal. We can tell the animal is not from the Sundarbans. There will be minute differences in the populations at the genetic level even though they are the same species,” Chandra explained.

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The ZSI is in talks with the Airport Authority of India, Kolkata to help it with habitat management of jackals and birds in the vicinity of the airport.

“We have had a few meetings. Our role will be in identifying the burrows and habitats of the jackals through satellite technology and also offer suggestions on how to manage their populations. Similarly, for birds and prevention of bird strikes, we may offer suggestions,” Chandra added.

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