DNA 'barcode' identified for plants

A 'barcode' gene that can be used to distinguish between the majority of plant species on Earth has been identified by scientists who publish their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal this month. This gene, which can be used to identify plants using a small sample, could lead to new ways of easily cataloguing different types of plants in species-rich areas like rainforests. It could also lead to accurate methods for identifying plant ingredients in powdered substances, such as in traditional Chinese medicines, and could help to monitor and prevent the...

Detection of Illegal trade in the Cape Parrot and Blue Crane using DNA

Tiawanna Taylor Both the Blue Crane and Cape Parrot suffer from illegal trade in South Africa where chicks, or eggs, are removed from the nests of wild breeding pairs. Both these species are protected by South African legislation and permits are required by anyone wanting to possess, own or trade these birds. In order to obtain a permit, birds should be captive bred. However, illegal traders often operate by fraudulently obtaining permits, by falsely claiming that they have captive bred the chicks themselves. Proving that this is not the case, in order to prosecute offenders, can be difficult...

Roan 200 years later

Rob Toms and Salomon Joubert Roan antelope. Photo © Transvaal Museum The roan antelope, Hippotragus equinus , is one of Africa's most attractive antelopes. First described 200 years ago it is also now one Africa's most endangered antelopes despite being one of the most reproductive.


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