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Illegal logging is one of the main causes of ongoing worldwide deforestation and needs to be eradicated. The trade in illegal timber and wood products creates market disadvantages for products from sustainable forestry. Although various measures have been established to counter illegal logging and the subsequent trade, there is a lack of practical mechanisms for identifying the origin of timber and wood products. In this study, six nuclear microsatellites were used to generate DNA fingerprints for a genetic reference database characterising the populations of origin of a large set of mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla King, Meliaceae) samples. For the database, leaves and/or cambium from 1971 mahogany trees sampled in 31 stands from Mexico to Bolivia were genotyped. A total of 145 different alleles were found, showing strong genetic differentiation (δ(Gregorious)=0.52, F(ST)=0.18, G(ST(Hedrick))=0.65) and clear correlation between genetic and spatial distances among stands (r=0.82, P<0.05). We used the genetic reference database and Bayesian assignment testing to determine the geographic origins of two sets of mahogany wood samples, based on their multilocus genotypes. In both cases the wood samples were assigned to the correct country of origin. We discuss the overall applicability of this methodology to tropical timber trading. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.


B Degen, S E Ward, M R Lemes, C Navarro, S Cavers, A M Sebbenn. Verifying the geographic origin of mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla King) with DNA-fingerprints. Forensic science international. Genetics. 2013 Jan;7(1):55-62

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PMID: 22770645

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