Genetic ‘barcodes’ reveal three frogs unreported in India

Technique also points to smaller distribution of the ornate narrow-mouthed frog, which may require a protection programme
Barcodes are not used in supermarkets alone. Each species can be recognised by its unique genetic ‘barcode’ and using this method, a team of scientists has identified three frog species not recorded in India before.
The researchers also found that the ornate narrow-mouthed frog — thought to be widely-distributed in Asia — is seen only in peninsular India and Sri Lanka.
The findings were published this week in the international journalMitochondrial DNA Part B , by a team that included scientists from Delhi University (DU) and the Wildlife Institute of India. It was the complex taxonomy of the ornate narrow-mouthed frog — it was first described in 1841 — that prompted the team to study it further. They collected 62 of these frogs across India and analysed their genetic data using DNA barcoding. They compared this with available genetic data from across south Asia.
The study reveals that the ornate narrow-mouthed frog is present only in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. However, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently classifies the species as “Least Concern” based on the outdated information that it is widespread. This could be a “major concern”, said S. D. Biju, of Delhi University, who led the study. “An assessment of threats that this species might be facing in its currently restricted range could show it to be data deficient or even threatened, thereby requiring conservation attention,” he said.
Status review
The study would “enable IUCN to review the conservation status of this group of frogs across South Asia at the earliest opportunity”, said Neil Cox, manager of the biodiversity assessment unit, IUCN. “Species informations are outdated for India and Sri Lanka and we are awaiting funding to begin re-assessments.” These findings also increase India’s frog species tally to 400.
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