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DNA database for trees will help track illegal logging

from Fast Company

On his vacation over Memorial Day weekend, Jakub Bednarek headed into the forest near his home in Leavenworth, Washington, and collected samples of maple leaves to send to a lab for DNA analysis. Bednarek, who also works as a biologist in his day job, is one of 150 volunteers in a project this summer that stretches along the Pacific Coast. The project's aim: To create a genetic map of a particular species of maple, which can then be used to help identify illegally harvested wood.

DNA testing has been used on black market timber in the past–in a case in 2015, for example, when a sawmill owner was convicted of trading illegal wood, scientists used DNA analysis to identify the exact stumps of the trees that had been cut down. But it can also be used at a broader level; by mapping how the genetics of a particular species of tree changes by region, it's possible to identify where particular timber came from. more


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