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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.