Genetic Identification of Fish Species using DNA Barcoding


Standard operating procedure for the genetic identification of fish species using DNA barcoding (mitochondrial cytochrome-C-oxidase I sequencing).


This method is suitable for the qualitative identification of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) in fish products. It has been tested against a very broad taxonomic range of fish species (but has failed in a small minority of cases, <5% of species tested; Ivanova et al., 2007). The assay is designed to work with fresh, smoked, salted and frozen samples. It is also successful with cooked products, but success is dependent on the intensity of cooking. It is not suitable for highly processed foods e.g. tins of tuna. It is also unsuitable for the identification of complex fish products containing DNA from multiple species. For some species of relatively recent evolutionary origin, this method may only be able to identify the sample down to the genus level (e.g. some tunas of the genus Thunnus, or redfish of the Sebastes genus). In these cases, additional tests might be required for species level identification.


Prepared by the LabelFish consortium (See below)

Approval Status

Published by LabelFish consortium, December 2014.


Copyright not stated.

Additional information

The Labelfish project is an EU InterReg funded network of laboratories in the “Atlantic Area” of Europe, aiming to develop harmonised & standardise methods for the authentication of seafood products (



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Last Updated Date: 19-01-2017