Many research projects require accurate identification of fish samples that are no longer visually recognizable, such as partially digested prey items from the stomach contents of predatory species. FISHBIO frequently collaborates with project partners to genetically identify tissue samples that are rendered unrecognizable, or to provide validation of visual identification for samples that are challenging to assign to a particular species (such as larval fishes).
Generally, such samples are first preserved in laboratory-grade alcohol, and a small piece of tissue is later removed for laboratory processing. Upon transfer of samples to our collaborators, DNA is extracted from the tissues and amplified using universal primers, a set of reagents that creates numerous copies of the DNA in question across a broad range of animal taxa. The amplified DNA is then sequenced, and the resulting genetic code is compared to DNA databases to provide species identification.