RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

State of the art

Today, genetic fingerprinting is the most widely used and reliable identification method that determins a DNA profile, which is highly characteristic of each individual. The classical genetic fingerprint is based on the PCR method where repetitive DNA sequences, so-called microsatellites, are amplified and assigned to a genotype according to the repetition patterns. In addition, inherited single nucleotide polymorphisms are frequently used for genotyping. Forensics as well as kinship and parentage assessments are based on the different polymorphism levels of several such microsatellite and/or SNP markers. These are accepted as evidence in criminal trials in courts worldwide, find application in commercial breeding or form the basis in research. 

While diverse and qualitatively meaningful microsatellite marker sets for humans have been established over decades, the repertoire of markers for all other species is extremely limited. Apart from species that are in the focus of large-scale commercial animal husbandry or are analyzed in the context of research projects, the situation is particularly bad for supposedly exotic species. Moreover, according to current estimates, only about 25% of the world’s biodiversity has been recorded at all so far. 

The main problem with genotyping of higher organisms at present is that, according to the current state of the art, a completely new, individual test has to be developed for each single species. We are currently talking about an estimated 9 million animal species (https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-14616161) and 400,000 plant species (https://news.mongabay.com/2016/05/many-plants-world-scientists-may-now-answer/). Cross-species microsatellite systems, which also have a high degree of polymorphism, are even more complex to develop and still usually cover only a limited number of species. Even though it is nowadays possible to generate complete genome data sets at affordable prices, the knowledge of the DNA sequence does not replace the individual search, establishment and validation of microsatellite marker sets. The determination of identity and/or degree of relationship, given the countless animal and plant species traded, therefore presents current methods with a technically, economically and temporally unsolvable task.  

New developments from Ark-Biodiversity

Efficient species protection will only be possible if a single, recognized testing system can be used for all known and as yet unknown species. Ark-Biodiversity’s revolutionary goal is therefore to develop a universally applicable analysis method that generates a genetic fingerprint for all higher organisms. We call our cross-taxon DNA fingerprinting approach: Universal Fingerprint of Life (UFoL). The following aspects are particularly important to us in product development: 

  • To guarantee global acceptance of our test results, polymorphic microsatellites and single nucleotide polymorphisms must be analyzed. 
  • The use of a cross-species, consistent molecular biological and bioinformatic procedure is essential to establish standardized workflows and to be able to answer the various genetic questions quickly and cost-effectively in the future. 
  • Even though we use state-of-the-art sequencing methods for our test in order to obtain maximum genetic information content, the test must function independently of the availability or resequencing of complete genome data of the species under investigation.  
  • In order to establish our test as a future standard, we are working on a uniform identification and registration system, which will record the obtained genetic fingerprint of each individual in a doubtless, permanent and forgery-proof way. 

The technological quantum leap envisaged by our company enables a worldwide non-manipulable registration of all protected and endangered species as well as the traceability of all transactions of these organisms. After all, an individual’s genetic code is literally the only thing that cannot be separated, altered or falsified from an animal. The method has the potential to function as a “gold standard” in a variety of applications and to be established as a globally available kit sold by us including an evaluation database license.