Every year dozens of sample come to our lab. Most of the samples we receive are skin biopsies collected from living whales during the fields seasons, but we also receive¬† skin samples from necropsies on whales found recently dead and fragments of NARW bone from an individual which during the 16th century. At the Natural Resources DNA Profiling and Forensic Centre (NRDPFC) at Trent University, we have an archival right whale tissue and DNA bank that currently contains 1123 samples from 503 whales (over 75% of the population)!
In addition, we have created an archival right whale genomic library to facilitate the identification and isolation of new molecular markers. We are constantly updating and adding molecular markers to the individual-specific genetic profiles to facilitate high resolution of analyses and a better understanding¬†of these whales.
Our laboratory is part of the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium which functions as a platform for the sharing of data and formation of collaborations between researchers studying different aspects of the North Atlantic right whale. The objective of the Consortium is to maximize the information obtained from different aspects of right whale research, and to facilitate the incorporation these data into conservation efforts.
When samples arrive at our lab, their DNA is extracted and analyzed to individual-specific genetic profiles that consist of:¬† a sex-specific molecular marker; sequence analysis of the mitochondrial control region; genotype analysis at microsatellite loci; and sequence analysis of the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC). By developing sample profiles, we are able to identify which whale the samples were taken from, as well as determine who is living, reproducing or deceased. These samples are stored and used in various research projects requiring genetic data.¬† For more information on our past and current research, visit the¬† ‚ÄúResearch‚ÄĚ page under ‚ÄúAbout‚ÄĚ.¬† To find individual genetic profiles, click the ‚ÄúDNA Bank‚ÄĚ button.