The identification of mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms is one of the most efficient methods for species differentiation. Genotyping of molecular markers using PCR/RFLP is a reliable, sensitive and inexpensive method for the detection of species specific mutations. The major causes of decline in Sirenia populations are accidental and intentional catches, collisions with boats and habitat loss. The goal of the present study was to identify, in silico, nucleotide mutations in the cytochrome b gene that can be used for the future development of forensic tools capable of using small tissue fragments to discriminate manatee meat from domesticated species meat commonly used as food sources (bovine, ovine, caprine and swine). DNA sequence alignments revealed two polymorphic sites distinguishing the manatee species from domestic species. The present study reinforced the power of cytochrome polymorphisms as powerful markers for species identification, which may be particularly useful for identifying vulnerable/endangered species. The data provided herein also suggest such mtDNA markers as important conservation tools for combating predatory manatee hunting for illegal meat trade in the America
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