Rapid identification of capybara (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris) through allele-specific PCR

Flávio Henrique-Silva, Marcelo Cervini, Euclides Matheucci Jr


The capybara is the largest rodent in the world and is widely distributed throughout Central and South America.  It is an animal of economic interest due to the pleasant flavor of its meat and higher protein content in comparison  to beef and pork meat.  The hide, hair and fat also have economic advantages. Thus,  as an animal with such high economic potential, it is the target of hunters, even though  hunting capybara is prohibited by law in Brazil.   Due to their  similarities,  capybara meat  is easily confused with  pork  meat.   This  occurs  upon  the apprehension of the  meat  from hunters, as well as in some restaurants that serve capybara meat that was slaughtered clandestinely. In both cases, when the meat is confiscated, those responsible for the crimes claim it is pork meat,  hindering  the enforcement of the law. A practical  course was ministered  to undergraduate biology students enrolled in the elective course Introduction to Genetic  Engineering  at Federal  University  of Sao Carlos (UFSCar), Sao Paulo  State, Brazil.  The  objective  of the  course was to establish  and  apply  a Polymerase  Chain  Reaction  (PCR) assay to identify capybara meat and discriminate it in relation  to other types of meat,  including pork. Primers  were designed based  on 12S rRNA,  transthyretin and  growth  hormone  receptor  genes.  The primers generated  capybara specific fragments  of approximately 220, 290 and 330 bp for transthyretin,12S rRNA  and  growth  hormone  receptor,  respectively.   The  duplexes  developed  in the  present work can be used effectively to discriminate capybara meat  from other  animals,  contributing to combating predatory capybara hunting. The results were extensively discussed and the students have contributed to written a paper  to be submitted to a publication.


allele-specific PCR, capybara

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.16923/reb.v3i1.173


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