The caviar is the most expensive animal product and it is highly valued throughout the world. It is often a subject of frauds where caviar from other sturgeon species or their hybrids is passed off as the most valuable caviar that comes from the beluga.
Until now, there was no simple way to distinguish the original from the substitute. Now such a breakthrough method brings the joint research of scientists from the Faculty of Fisheries and Protection of Waters of the University of South Bohemia and the Faculty of Fisheries Sciences of the Hokkaido University in Hakodate. For the poaching and destruction of natural habitats sturgeons belong to the most endangered animals on our planet. Significant decline in sturgeon populations has led to the development of their artificial breeds.
These were originally aimed at returning these fish to nature, but more recently they are increasingly devoted to the production of caviar. "In addition to pure sturgeon species, the caviar is also produced from their hybrids, among which the “bester” is the most used. To recognize the less valuable caviar of hybrids from the true caviar requires DNA analysis and species identification, which is very complicated and requires appropriate molecular methods, "says Milos Havelka, who is engaged in the research of sturgeon fish at the Faculty of Fisheries and Protection of Waters at the University of South Bohemia. Therefore, he focused on the development of new techniques that allow a recognition of the beluga´s caviar. "I have identified specific features in the genus of the beluga and small sturgeon and bester, on the basis of which I subsequently created a simple method for recognizing individuals of beluga, small sturgeon and bester. The method reliably works also for the determination of caviar species, and only one single yawn is needed for the analysis, "adds Milos Havelka, who worked on developing the new method during his stay at the Hokkaido University in Japan.
The developed instrument should contribute to better and more reliable control and regulation of international trade in the caviar as well as to the conservation and returning of sturgeon fish into the wild nature. Because the new method is very simple and does not require any expensive instrumentation, it can be easily used across laboratories even in the less developed countries.