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FEATURE ARTICLE

Molecular Conservation Genetics

Tools for assaying the structure of DNA prove valuable in protecting endangered species

Mary Ashley

Figure 2. Restriction-fragment-length polymorphismClick to Enlarge Image

Conservation biology seeks to maintain both unique species and the genetic diversity within those species. Without the help of molecular genetics, however, it's not necessarily easy to quantify either quality. Using mitochondrial DNA, polymerase chain reaction techniques, and microsatellite DNA, molecular geneticists help biologists determine which species are genetically distinct and whether their DNA are adequately diverse, allowing wise management of endangered species. Examples are cited for the management of black rhinoceroses, owl monkeys, whales, Mexican gray wolves and chimpanzees.


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