The wildlife forensics service offers a number of "boutique" DNA services for cases involving wildlife. We do not conduct human DNA testing/profiling - this work is handled by state/federal run facilities. Please note that this is a service that is currently only offered to Australian customers - the logistics involved in importing biologicals into Australia currently makes offering these services outside Australia non-viable. Australian Wildlife Forensic Services is a non profit laboratory that offered DNA technology across the country with the aim of reducing the illegal trade in wildlife. All of the fees we charge for sample analysis go directly into research programs, reagents and staff costs.
The costs associated with conducting this kind of DNA work can vary depending on volume of samples, types of samples, required turn-around time, level of reporting required and the kinds of questions that you hope that DNA can address. Given all the variables it is difficult to provide an acurate schedule of fees. Species identification services start at $475 for a sample (sequencing two genes and a written report), with all subsequent samples dropping in price there after due to economy of scale. To provide an indication of the kind of cost and reporting we have included below a number of representative examples. If you are considering conducting DNA tests on your samples please contact one of our lab members who will be able to brief you on what can and can't be currently achieved with your samples/species. Please be aware that submitting a sample does NOT guarantee a result - there are instances where DNA . Customers are often consulted prior to undertaking
Example 1: A government agency sent a pair of decorative swords to us for DNA species Identification. The customer was interested in weather or not the bone/ivory handles were from a CITES listed species. Using a dental drill small quantities of bone/ivory were "shaved" off the handled. This sample underwent a process of DNA extraction and PCR amplification (photocopying). We then sequenced the amplified DNA and by comparing sequences to our database were able to assign these to Bubulis bubulis (water buffalo). The customer was charged $660 for lab staff time, reagents and a report.
Example 2: A fecal sample was posted to us from a land owner and arrived in poor condition. At the request of the costumer we proceeded ahead with the DNA extraction, unfortunately were not able to amplify any animal DNA from the sample. This may of been due to the fact that there is no animal DNA in the sample, alternatively it may be that microbes (bacteria and fungi) were degrading the DNA in the sample. The customer was still charged $220 to cover the time/reagents. While our lab specialises in obtaining DNA from degraded samples it is not possible if the sample has no DNA in it. Customers should be aware that submitting a sample does NOT guarantee a result.
Example 3: In a case involving native cockatoos our lab was asked to determine parentage from a number of samples. In this case a breeder was suspected of poaching eggs from wild nest hollows and passing them off as birds that were breed in captivity. DNA testing was carried out on 30 samples - this testing involved DNA profiling using 20 different STR "markers". Based on the DNA profiles of each of the samples we were able to issue a report that included measures of relatedness between each of the samples. The government agency was charged $4500 for the DNA profiling to cover the expense of lab staff, STR typing and some complex interpretations of relatedness.