Forensically informative nucleotide sequencing (FINS) for the first time authentication of Indian Varanus species: implication in wildlife forensics and conservation

<p>Monitor lizards are Varanus species widely distributed, endangered reptile in the IUCN red data list. In India, based on the morphological and ecological characteristic, it is divided into four species <i>viz.</i> Bengal monitor lizard, Yellow monitor lizard, Desert monitor lizard and Water monitor lizard. These four species listed as Schedule I species in Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. This paper first attempt to present Forensically Informative Nucleotide Sequencing (FINS) for the Indian Varanus based on three mitochondrial genes. The molecular framework will be useful for the identification of Indian Varanus species and trade products derived from monitors and as such, have important applications for wildlife management and conservation. Here, we used known 14 individual skin pieces of four species of monitor lizards; the partial fragment of three mitochondrial genes (Cyt b, 12S rRNA, and 16S rRNA) were amplified for genetic study. In Cyt b, 12S rRNA and 16s rRNA, we observed, 5, 5 and 4 Haplotypes; 71, 69, and 43 Variables sites; 90, 89, and 50 Parsimony Informative sites within four species of Indian monitor lizards, respectively. Despite it, the nucleotide composition was T 26.4, C 32.8, A 29.2 and G11.6; T 18.8, C 29.7, A 34.0 and G 17.5; T 21.7, C 27.3, A 32.5 and G 18.5 in Cyt b, 12S rRNA and 16S rRNA, respectively. The neighbor joining phylogenetic tree and maximum parsimony tree of three mitochondrial genes, showed similar results and reveal that, there are two major clades are present in Indian monitor lizards.</p>