DNA Barcoding, Mars Mission Make Headlines

January 03, 2012 - In the News

Integrative biology professor Robert Hanner was featured in the Vancouver Sun Jan. 2, discussing how DNA barcoding technology can detect mislabelled seafood.

The article looks at a Victoria-based seafood importer that has implemented DNA testing on seafood processed in China. Mislabelling and substitution are systemic in the North American market, Hanner says. He has taken part in research projects that involve collecting fish samples from restaurants and markets in Toronto, Guelph and New York City. Those studies have found that about 25 per cent of the fish was mislabelled.

Hanner is associate director of the Canadian Barcode of Life Network, which is headquartered at the U of G-based Biodiversity Institute of Ontario. He also co-ordinates the Fish Barcode of Life campaign intended to barcode the world’s fish species.

DNA barcoding is a molecular technique honed at Guelph that allows scientists to match up barcodes from specimens of unknown identity to those derived from expert-identified reference specimens.

U of G’s role in the Mars mission continues to make headlines. A story in Monday’s Toronto Star features at the Mars Science laboratory rover and the made-in-Guelph alpha particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS) that is mounted on the arm of Curiosity.

Developed by a team of international scientists led by U of G physics professor Ralf Gellert, the APXS is about the size of a soda pop can. It will measure exactly which chemical elements — and how much of each type — are in Martian rock or soil.

A Guelph team helped to develop and fine-tune the APXS, which is Canada’s contribution to the MSL mission. During the mission, the U of G team will support the APXS operations and send instructions for operating the device on the rover. The team will work in a specially equipped room in the MacNaughton Building.

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