Piles of scats for piles of DNA: deriving DNA of lizards from their faeces
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Species identification and distribution; individual identity and relatedness; population history, structure, and diversity and more can be derived from faecal (scat) DNA. Although there are problems, such as contamination from prey DNA, in deriving donor DNA in this way, non-invasive genetic sampling using scats has a well established role in conservation biology. Using scats from captive and wild Egernia stokesii (Squamata, Scincidae) we evaluated two storage and four DNA extraction methods and assessed the reliability of assessing subsequent genotypes and sequences. Reliable genotypes and sequences were obtained from frozen and dried captive lizard scat DNA extracted using a QIAamp ® DNA Stool Mini Kit and a modified Gentra ®Puregene ® method; yet success rates deteriorated for wild lizard scats. Wild E. stokesii eat more plants than their captive counterparts; DNA extraction may be impeded by plant inhibitors present in scats of wild lizards . Notably, reliable genotypes and sequences were obtained from wild E. stokesii scat DNA extracted using a Qiagen DNeasy ® Plant Mini Kit, a method designed to remove plant inhibitors. Results highlight the opportunity for using scat derived DNA in lizard studies, particularly for species that deposit scats in piles.
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