American bison (Bison bison) meat is susceptible to species mislabeling due to its high value and similar appearance to meat from domestic cattle (Bos taurus). DNA barcoding is commonly used to identify animal species. However, as a result of the historical hybridization of American bison and domestic cattle, additional genetic testing is required for species confirmation. The objective of this study was to perform a market survey of bison meat products and verify the species using DNA barcoding combined with polymerase chain reaction-satellite fragment length polymorphism (PCR-SFLP). Bison products (n = 45) were purchased from a variety of retailers. Samples that were positive for domestic cattle with DNA barcoding were further analyzed with PCR-SFLP. DNA barcoding identified bison in 41 products, red deer (Cervus elaphus) in one product, and domestic cattle in three products. PCR-SFLP confirmed the identification of domestic cattle in two samples, while the third sample was identified as bison with ancestral cattle DNA. Overall, mislabeling was detected in 3 of the 45 samples (6.7%). This study revealed that additional DNA testing of species that have undergone historical hybridization provides improved identification results compared to DNA barcoding alone.
Keywords: DNA barcoding; PCR-RFLP; PCR-SFLP; bison; cattle; hybrids; species identification.