Conservation Genetics

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 855–865 | Cite as

Forensic genetic identification of abalone (Haliotis spp.) of the northeastern Pacific Ocean

  • K. Janine Supernault
  • Art Demsky
  • Alan Campbell
  • Tobi J. Ming
  • Kristi M. Miller
  • Ruth E. Withler
Research Article


International trade in abalone meats, exclusive of their shells, is a lucrative business based upon both legally and illegally harvested abalone from many jurisdictions. The inability to visually identify abalone meat to species in the absence of the shell impedes enforcement efforts to reduce the illegal exploitation of the world’s abalone resources. We describe species-specific DNA sequences for the gamete recognition proteins, sperm lysin and vitelline egg receptor for lysin, and their use in forensic species identification among abalone of the northeastern Pacific Ocean. Some commercially relevant abalone species from the Northern and Southern hemispheres can be differentiated on the basis of the length of the second intron of the sperm lysin gene. The seven North American species of abalone that occupy the waters of Mexico, the USA and Canada can be distinguished based on sequence differentiation in the first three repeats of the vitelline receptor gene.


Abalone species identification molecular forensics DNA markers 



We are grateful to the following individuals for abalone tissue and/or DNA samples: D. Brouwer (H. kamtschatkana, BC), D. Woodby (H. kamtschatkana, Alaska), T. Seki (H. discus hannai), J. Bartlett and S. Shepherd (Australian species), C. Friedman (H. wallalensis), R. Burton (H. k. assimilis and H. cracherodii), R. Perez-Enriquez (H. fulgens, H. corrugata), P. Haaker (H. rufuscens) and R. Tarr (South African species). Liane Stenhouse and Carrie Gummer provided technical help in the laboratory. Two reviewers provided helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Janine Supernault
    • 1
  • Art Demsky
    • 2
  • Alan Campbell
    • 1
  • Tobi J. Ming
    • 1
  • Kristi M. Miller
    • 1
  • Ruth E. Withler
    • 1
  1. 1.Fisheries and Oceans CanadaPacific Biological StationNanaimoCanada
  2. 2.Fisheries and Oceans CanadaConservation and ProtectionLangleyCanada

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