Barcoding DNA is an accepted tool in taxonomic identification. We report the design of a universal primer pair for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene (COI) developed using COI gene sequences of all 8 extant bear species (family Ursidae) available on GenBank. This primer pair successfully amplified approximately 700 base pairs of the COI gene of Asiatic black (Ursus thibetanus; n = 12) and Himalayan brown (U. arctos; n = 6) bears. We sequenced the PCR product and compared the sequences with those of the other 6 species to generate degrees of homology (83–92%) and genetic distances. The primer pair has yet to be tested in the other 6 species. We developed a preliminary phylogenetic tree for the 8 species based on these data.
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