Scientists have developed a portable DNA barcoding kit which makes rapid species identification possible for port of entry officials within a few hours. “We know that many of the species that share our planet are in serious decline – from large vertebrates to small insects, from canopy trees to tiny understory plants,” said Professor Paul Hebert from University of Guelph in Canada.
“By coupling the power of DNA barcoding to identify species with portability, LAB-IN-A-BOX makes it possible for anyone to identify any species anywhere,” said Hebert. “It is certain to improve our capacity to care for the species that not only enliven our planet, but provide essential ecosystem services,” said Hebert.
In developing countries, where inspectors at ports of entry may have limited taxonomic knowledge and expertise, the need for rapid DNA identification is even more pressing, said Sujeevan Ratnasingham, creator of the LAB-IN-A-BOX, from the University of Guelph.
Many threatened animals and plants are trafficked out of developing countries, which do not have adequate resources to combat these crimes, researchers said. “The aim of LifeScanner LAB-IN-A-BOX is to improve the situation by addressing two challenges, rapid detection, and successful prosecution,” Ratnasingham said.
“It does this by reducing the cost of adopting DNA analysis infrastructure and by simplifying usage of DNA analysis tools,” he added.