Lab experience with seafood control at the undergraduate level: Cephalopods as a case study

Biochem Mol Biol Educ. 2020 May;48(3):236-246. doi: 10.1002/bmb.21332. Epub 2020 Jan 16.


The correct labeling of seafood is important to protect nature and the rights of consumers. Given the certainty that the resources of the sea are not inexhaustible, only strict regulations and the implementation of sustainable fishing systems and reliable and traceable marketing systems can help ensure the long-term sustainability of fishery resources. Detecting mislabeling and seafood fraud is a useful resource for improving students' motivation and developing active learning methodologies in higher education. In the present study, we have proposed to the students a lab exercise consisting of exploring 25 different commercial cephalopod products from three major European supermarkets by using DNA barcoding and analyzing the results under the framework of EU and Spanish regulations. The problem is connected with the last theme (traceability) of the Conservation Genetics and Breeding course with the aim of providing students with a practical research lab experience about a real problem before going deeper into more theoretical contents. In this way, they can use the knowledge and the skills they acquired previously to better comprehend and think critically about the problem. Findings from students' answers to a survey revealed that the use of this approach generates useful information for communities, increases curiosity and feelings of benefit, and leads to high levels of satisfaction with lab practices compared with those in other courses. In conclusion, lab exercises focused on seafood control, in addition to being viable, can be used as a tool in classes to improve students' commitment to higher education.

Keywords: barcoding; cephalopods; lab experiences; seafood control; university.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cephalopoda / classification
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • DNA Barcoding, Taxonomic
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Fisheries
  • Food Technology / methods
  • Genetics / education*
  • Humans
  • Laboratories
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Problem-Based Learning / methods*
  • Seafood / classification*
  • Spain
  • Students
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Teaching*
  • Universities