Archive for July, 2009

Fishy species? DNA can tell

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Fishy species? DNA can tell

I never thought we could be eating fresh water tilapia instead of raw tuna as advertised in a sushi bar. But, according to this study conducted by two New York school girls, half of the time, we are eating substituted fish. Another study published in the science journal Nature also found that 77% of fish sold as red snapper were actually another species.

Apparently, substituted fish not only reveals unethical business conducts, but also presents some health issues. To help address this problem, FDA is teaming up with fishermen in the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo to barcode fish species using DNA technology.

FDA scientists will be at the rodeo collecting samples of different species caught, and DNA from those samples will be used to create a genetic profile, or literally a DNA bar code, for each species. The DNA barcodes of the species in the FDA fish DNA database can then be compared against DNA found in any suspect fish served or sold anywhere in the U. S.

FDA is also collecting fish samples at other locations and from seafood shops across the nation.

So, next time, you shell out $9.95 for a grouper sandwich and wonder why it tastes like catfish; you have a way to find out. Simply send the sample to FDA, and let DNA tell the truth!

Everyone’s fun to play with DNA

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

On June 18, 2009, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that prisoners do not have a constitutional right to DNA testing, which could prove their innocence. This makes me think that the application of the DNA technology has really come a long way.

Since DNA testing for human identification was introduced in the middle of 1980s, the genetic fingerprinting technology has already become a very popular technology to confirm identities and verify biological relationships.  TV shows such as CSI and Maury Show have also helped spread the word of this technology to tens of millions of American households.

An expensive test in the beginning, it has a much more affordable price tag nowadays, which allows common people to turn to the technology seeking answers to their questions about relationships and identities. Among the first users of this technology, the forensic world relies more and more heavily on it to identify victims, convict perpetrators, and solve crimes. Now, this technology has just made itself a topic for constitutional right debate.

More intriguingly, this technology is widely used in areas most people may never imagine. DNA family relationship test is requested by government immigration agencies to verify the claimed family relationship in family reunification cases; DNA test is required to confirm maternity in some countries before the birth mother can give up the child for adoption; DNA test is helping genealogy lovers find their roots; and DNA test is used in animal farming and pet breeding business to detect genetic diseases, and ensure better breeding programs.

DNA testing is also entering people’s leisure life because of the uniqueness of each person’s genetic fingerprint. Some super-rich people are seeking to map their entire human genome at a six figure price while some companies are offering more affordable genetic compatibility test to help you find the perfect other half. If you like, it is not very difficult to make your DNA fingerprint a piece of art that hangs on the wall in your home, or you can choose to bank your DNA materials for the unlimited potentials of testing for various purposes in the future.

After all, DNA is unique to you and does not change. With this type of ownership, everyone can find some fun playing with it!