Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures


Species-Specific Markers for PCR-Based Identification of Sharks

Event Name/Location

American Elasmobranch Society 15th Annual Meeting, State College, PA, June, 1999

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Since individual species of sharks respond differently to exploitation, management of the shark fishery on a species-specific basis is considered imperative for effective conservation and sustainable harvesting of this resource. The morphological similarities of many of the commercially harvested species, coupled with on-board processing methods have made it very difficult to collect accurate, species-specific catch data. As a result, many of the sharks landed are either incorrectly identified or classified as "unidentified sharks" in fishery records. Moreover, the widespread practice of shark finning in many parts of the world, and a potentially expanded list of prohibited shark fishery species in US waters will require the ability to identify sharks accurately from dried fins and other body parts for legal forensic purposes. To this end we are exploring the development of DNA sequence-based differences in sharks as markers for reliable species identification. In the quest to develop a streamlined process, we investigating the utility of multiplex PCR-based protocols for rapid identification of tissues using nucleotide differences in the ribosomal internal transcribed spacer regions. We report here on our progress to date in this endeavor.