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Open Access Methodology

Forensic identification of severely degraded Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) tissues

Sussie Dalvin1*, Kevin A Glover1, Anne GE Sørvik1, Bjørghild B Seliussen1 and John B Taggart2

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Marine Research. P.O. Box 1870, Nordnes. N- 5817 Bergen, Norway

2 Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, Scotland, FK9 4LA, UK

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Investigative Genetics 2010, 1:12  doi:10.1186/2041-2223-1-12

Published: 3 November 2010

Abstract

Background

Aquaculture is a globally important and rapidly growing industry. It contributes positively to the economy and sustainability of coastal communities, but it is not without regulatory challenges. These challenges are diverse, and may include identification of fish discarded in an illegal manner, biological discharge from fish ensilage tanks, and partially destroyed or processed tissues. Robust genetic tools are required by management authorities to address these challenges. In this paper, we describe nine species-specific primer sets amplifying very short DNA fragments within the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome c oxidase (COI) gene, which were designed to permit diagnostic identification of degraded DNA from two of the most commonly farmed salmonids in Europe and North America.

Results

Of the nine designed primer sets, six were found to be species-specific (four Atlantic salmon, two rainbow trout), whereas the remaining three sets (two Atlantic salmon, one rainbow trout) also amplified a product from other, closely related, salmonid DNA templates. Screening of DNA templates from 11 other non-salmonid native fish species did not produce PCR products with any of the primer sets. Specific tests confirmed the ability of these markers to identify Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout tissues in treated food products, chemically treated ensilage waste and fillets left to degrade in saltwater for up to 31 days at 15°C. Importantly, these markers provided diagnostic identification in cases where other genetic methods failed because of degraded DNA quality.

Conclusions

Results from this study demonstrate that amplification of very short DNA fragments using species-specific primers represents a robust and versatile method to create cheap and efficient genetic tests that can be implemented in a range of forensic applications. These markers will provide fishery, aquaculture and food regulatory authorities with a method to investigate and enforce regulations within these industries.