Wild or farmed? A pilot study on determining origin of wildlife meat using methylation rate of ACTN3 gene and American mink.
Commercial farming of endangered wildlife has potential to reduce poaching pressure on wild populations. However, poached products can be laundered as farmed products. A method for separating farmed from wild products is therefore essential for effective law enforcement. Meat (skeletal muscle) is a wildlife product whose origin cannot be correctly determined. This short communication reports an epigenetic approach to achieve the distinction using the methylation rate of the promoter of the α-actinin-3 (ACTN3) gene in gluteus maximus tissues of feral (n=21) and farmed (n=21) American mink, Neovison vison. Our results showed that the accuracy of assignment ranged from 59.5 to 76.2% on each of six CpG sites/site groups. Combination of the six CpG sites/site groups achieved 83.3% overall correct assignment, 90.5% for the farmed group and 76.2% for the wild group. These data suggest the methylation rate of promoters of selected genes could be an effective indicator to distinguish farmed meat from wild meat of wildlife species.