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Biological Research

Print version ISSN 0716-9760

Abstract

MARRERO, PATRICIA; FREGEL, ROSA; CABRERA, VICENTE M  and  NOGALES, MANUEL. Extraction of high-quality host DNA from feces and regurgitated seeds: a useful tool for vertebrate ecological studies. Biol. Res. [online]. 2009, vol.42, n.2, pp.147-151. ISSN 0716-9760.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0716-97602009000200002.

DNA extraction methods for genotyping non-invasive samples have led to great advances in molecular research for ecological studies, and have been particularly useful for analyzing threatened species. However, scarce amounts of fragmented DNA and the presence of Taq polymerase inhibitors in non-invasive samples are potential problems for subsequent PCR amplifications. In this study we describe a novel technique for extracting DNA from alimentary tract cells found on external surfaces of feces and regurgitated seeds. The presence of contaminants and inhibitors is minimized and samples are preserved intact for use in other ecological research (e.g. trophic studies). The amplification efficiency and purity of the extracted DNA from feces were significantly higher than in commonly used extraction procedures. Moreover, DNA of two bird species was identified from seeds expelled by regurgitation. Therefore, this method may be suitable for future ecological studies of birds, and other vertebrate groups.

Keywords : DNA extraction; ecological studies; guanidine thiocyanate; non-invasive method; pigeons; seed dispersal.

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