Scientia Marina, Vol 77, No 3 (2013)

DNA barcoding approaches for fishing authentication of exploited grouper species including the endangered and legally protected goliath grouper Epinephelus itajara

Rodrigo A. Torres
Laboratório de Genômica Evolutiva e Ambiental, Departamento de Zoologia, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco , Brazil

Rafael B. Feitosa
Laboratório de Genômica Evolutiva e Ambiental, Departamento de Zoologia, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco , Brazil

Daniel C. Carvalho
Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais , Brazil

Matheus O. Freitas
Programa Pós Graduação em Ecologia e Conservação – Universidade Federal do Paraná , Brazil

Mauricio Hostim-Silva
Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, CEUNES, DCAB , Spain

Beatrice P. Ferreira
Departamento de Oceanografia, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco , Brazil


Fishing strategies are constantly changing to meet the needs for new or alternative food sources. Consequently, management of fishing activities regarding rates of exploitation is essential, as a number of resources have reached situations of overexploitation. The aim of the present study was to use DNA barcoding from the goliath grouper and other exploited epinephelids in order to provide procedures for DNA authentication to be used as evidence for combating putative illegal fishing. The species studied were Epinephelus adscensionis, Mycteroperca bonaci, Mycteroperca interstitialis, Epinephelus itajara, Mycteroperca venenosa, Epinephelus mystacinus, Dermatolepis inermis, Alphestes afer, Cephalopholis fulva, Mycteroperca acutirostris, Rypticus saponaceus, Mycteroperca marginata and Epinephelus morio. Four of these species are the main epinephelids fished in the Atlantic Ocean. Differential patterns of polymerase chain reaction–restriction fragment length polymorphism were obtained from the species and additional single nucleotide polymorphisms were also detected among the four main epinephelids studied. The procedures proved very efficient and we suggest their applicability to the other fish groups as a way to control illegal capture and retail around the world, especially in cases in which filleting and other forms of de-characterization cause a lack of morpho-anatomical key characters.


DNA authentication; PCR-RFLPs; SNPs; groupers; goliath grouper; epinephelids

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