DNA barcoding is an identification method that uses a short genetic sequence in an organism's DNA to identify it as belonging to a particular species. This first class, in a series of DNA barcoding classes, will identify an unknown fish from a small (0.5 cc) sample of uncooked fish muscle tissue.
This hands-on class is appropriate for high school teachers, community college instructors, and other interested individuals, that want to learn and/or teach DNA Barcoding.
The Fish DNA Barcoding Class:
The Fish DNA Barcoding Class is a workshop that allows determining the species of a fish sample based on its DNA sequence. This exercise is an opportunity for participants to bring an uncooked fish sample and perform an investigation into their local area to see if marketplace substitution is occurring, or to develop the skills to participate in the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) initiative and contribute scientific data to the Barcode of Life Database (BOLD). The class involves basic laboratory techniques such as DNA isolation, PCR, gel electrophoresis, and sequencing.
Species are traditionally identified by taxonomists who need to have in-depth knowledge of certain species characteristics and environments in order to categorize them. The power of DNA research now allows us to add a level of identification based on the sequencing of a conserved gene. The subtle changes in sequences result in species-specific identification or genetic barcodes. This information is critical in helping to assess biodiversity and conservation efforts, as well as commercially, where food marketplaces can be regulated. In some cases, DNA barcoding can help make the distinction between species that look and behave so similarly that they would be considered the same species based on the traditional taxonomical criteria or can be used to help identify previously unclassified species.
The International Barcode of Life (iBOL) project is a global initiative to identify all species on Earth using a technology called DNA barcoding. DNA barcoding adds a genetic identification level to species classification. DNA barcoding is also being actively used by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) to monitor the labeling of fish in the marketplace. Once a fish has been processed for sale, it can be incredibly difficult for a consumer to tell the difference between the varieties available. Mislabeling might be done on purpose for profit, or accidentally, but the end result to consumers is the same — they do not get what they pay for.
An Oceana.org study found widespread mislabeling (33%) of fish sold in retail outlets - typically the substitution of a cheaper fish than what was represented: http://oceana.org/reports/oceana-study-reveals-seafood-fraud-nationwide
This laboratory activity involves extraction of DNA from fish tissue, amplification of the DNA through PCR, running gel electrophoresis to verify PCR products, and sequencing of the cytochrome c oxidase 1 (CO1) gene (external sequencing service will be utilized). The CO1 gene is a mitochondrial gene found in fish, birds, butterflies, flies, and other animal groups, making it a useful bench marking tool for comparison between species. Finally, bioinformatics analysis is performed to genetically identify the species using the sequence obtained. The unique sequence produced for a given fish sample is considered to be its DNA barcode.
Class Cost: $40/person, includes testing one fish.
To test one additional fish: an additional $15.
A maximum of of two fish per person allowed during class.
Experience/requirements: No prior experience required.
Class limit: 25 students
Open to all ages, however an adult (parent/guardian or teacher/mentor) will be required for class participants under 18 years old. Both adult and child must pay for class.
**UPDATE: Featured speakers will include, Katerina Kramer of Clontech http://clontech.com/ and Eddie Nazzal of MACHEREY-NAGEL GmbH & Co. KG http://mn-net.com/ .