Wednesday, February 4, 2009

DNA a "bar code" for plants?

Last year researchers from the Royal Botanical Gardens in England in collaboration with researchers at the University of Johannesburg and the University of Costa Rica, discovered a gene that could be used to readily identify plant specimens. This gene called the matK gene is different in different plant species, but has the same DNA sequence in plants of the same species.

This gene could be useful to identify different plant species which look very similar, or to identify plants which have been pulverized for use in medicines or teas.

The use of this gene will also make it possible to identify endangered plant specimens more easily, especially those which physically resemble less rare plants. It could also be used for example, by customs agents trying to detect the illegal importation of rare or endangered plants from other countries.

To read more about this discovery click here

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