DNA and identifications

Thomas G. Lammers lammers at FMPPR.FMNH.ORG
Fri Jan 15 15:39:49 CST 1999

At 11:28 AM 01-15-99 CST, you wrote:

>To the gene jocks out there,
>Question that came up recently and is beyond my
>expertise... if you had a piece of plant could you
>identify it to species just by DNA-type analyses?
>The only information you would have is that the
>piece was from a plant but you had nothing further, no
>locality, no data on genus or family or even if gymnosperm
>of angiosperm. (I am fully aware that once you know what
>species you can identify the indivudual from whence the
>piece came.) I was told there is a lab in Arizona that can
>do this type of ground zero identification but haven't found
>anything on the web. Anyone know about this lab?

I'm no molecular johnny,  but identification such as this would seem to be
predicated on having known sequences to compare against.  I would suspect a
very tiny fraction of the world's species have been sequenced for any one
gene and the results communicated to GENBANK.   Better results could be
obtained much quicker and much more cheaply with a good herbarium specimen.
: - P

Thomas G. Lammers

Classification, Nomenclature, Phylogeny and Biogeography
of the Campanulaceae, s. lat.

Department of Botany
Field Museum of Natural History
Roosevelt Road at Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60605-2496 USA

e-mail:    tlammers at fmnh.org
office:          312-922-9410 ext. 317 (voice-mail)
fax:                312-427-2530

"The most important thing to learn is how
   to teach yourself.  Everything else ...
   is just detail."
                                  -- Patrick Gibson

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