Sharks are harvested globally and sold in a variety of commercial products. However, they are particularly vulnerable to overfishing and many species are considered protected or endangered. The objective of this study was to identify species in various commercial shark products and to assess the effectiveness of three different DNA barcoding primer sets. Thirty-five products were collected for this study, including fillets, jerky, soup, and cartilage pills. DNA barcoding of these products was undertaken using two full-length primer sets and one mini-barcode primer set within the cytochrome c oxidase subunit (COI) gene. Successfully sequenced samples were then analyzed and identified to the species level using sequence databases and character-based analysis. When the results of all three primer sets were combined, 74.3% of the products were identified to the species level. Mini-barcoding showed the highest success rate for species identification (54.3%) and allowed for a wide range of identification capability. Six of the 26 identified products were found to be mislabeled or potentially mislabeled, including samples of shark cartilage pills, shark jerky, and shark fin soup. Six products contained species listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendices and 23 products contained near-threatened, vulnerable or endangered species according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Overall, this study revealed that a combination of DNA barcoding primers can be utilized to identify species in a variety of processed shark products and thereby assist with conservation and monitoring efforts.
Hellberg, R. S., Isaacs, R. B., & Hernandez, E. L. (2018). Identification of shark species in commercial products using DNA barcoding. Fisheries Research, 210, 81-88. doi: 10.1016/j.fishres.2018.10.010
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