Investigating a simplified method for noninvasive genetic sampling in East African mammals using silica dried scat swabs

Swabbing scat has proved to be an effective noninvasive method to collect DNA from mammals in the field. Previously, this method has relied on preservative liquids or freezing to preserve the DNA collected on swabs. In this study, we determine the effectiveness of using silica to simply dry the swab in field as an alternative way to prevent DNA degredation. Four species were included in the study; reticulated giraffe, impala, fringe-eared oryx, and lion. Swabs were taken at multiple time points for giraffe and impala scat samples, with the lion and oryx sampled opportunistically.
Mitochondrial DNA was successfully amplified and sequenced from scat swabs from all species; however, effectiveness varied between species, with 81.8% amplification success rate from swabs taken from impala scat compared to 25% amplification success rate in giraffe. This variation in success rate was overcome by taking multiple swabs, thus increasing the probability of a successful amplification. The true merit of this method is in its simplicity and cheapness; no preservative liquids were required to be brought into the field, at no stage in the 2 weeks of field sampling were samples frozen, and no commercial kits were used for DNA extraction.

Last Updated
January 27, 2021
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1.50 MB