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Improved Method for Wildlife DNA Collection, Analysis

A streamlined approach for the collection and analysis of fecal DNA is described in Frontiers in Genetics this week, offering researchers a safe and cost-effective tool for genetic research in wildlife. Noninvasive biological samples such as feces benefit studies into rare and elusive, endangered, or dangerous animals, but are often difficult to collect in sufficient amounts for complex molecular analyses. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have now established DNA collection, extraction, and sequencing protocols that allow for the accessible use of noninvasive fecal DNA samples to generate low- to medium-coverage whole-genome and metagenomic sequences. Their approach uses a standard DNA preservation card that does not require refrigeration or special handling, along with genomic library construction and shotgun sequencing methods that does not require enrichment or targeted DNA amplification. They demonstrate their protocols using elephant dung samples up to 72 hours old, generating a wealth of genomic and metagenomic data. "The molecular and bioinformatic analyses presented here contributes towards the expansion and application of genomic techniques to conservation science and practice," the scientists write.

The Scan

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.