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Optimization of protocols for DNA extraction from fecal samples

High-throughput sequencing offers new possibilities in molecular ecology and conservation studies. However, its potential has not yet become fully exploited for noninvasive studies of free–ranging animals, such as those based on feces. High–throughput sequencing allows sequencing of short DNA fragments and could allow simultaneous genotyping of a very large number of samples and markers at a low cost. The application of high throughput genotyping to fecal samples from wildlife has been hindered by several labor intensive steps. Alternative protocols which could allow higher throughput were evaluated for two of these steps: sample collection and DNA extraction. Two different field sampling and seven different DNA extraction methods were tested on grey wolf (Canis lupus) feces. There was high variation in genotyping success rates. The field sampling method based on surface swabbing performed much worse than the extraction from a fecal fragment. In addition, there is a lot of room for improvement in the DNA extraction step. Optimization of protocols can lead to very much more efficient, cheaper and higher throughput noninvasive monitoring. Selection of appropriate markers is still of paramount importance to increase genotyping success. informacion[at] Sarabia et al (2020) Towards high-throughput analyses of fecal samples from wildlife. Animal Biodiver Conserv 43.2: 271–283 Doi 10.32800/abc.2020.43.0271
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Angiosperm seeds lacking external flesh can be adapted for endozoochory

Angiosperm seeds lacking external flesh can be adapted for endozoochory

It is often assumed that only plants with a fleshy fruit disperse inside vertebrate guts, i.e. by "endozoochory". However, only 8% of European angiosperms have a fleshy fruit, and endozoochory of other plants by herbivorous or granivorous birds and mammals is widespread in nature. Many terrestrial and aquatic plants disperse via endozoochory by migratory waterbirds, providing long-dispersal dispersal. But how do they survive gut passage? Is the mechanical resistance to digestion different to that recorded in fleshy-fruited plants? Using SEM and 11 plants we compared seed morphology before and after gut passage through mallards. Diverse seed and dry fruit architecture provided multiple mechanisms to resist digestion and so enable seed survival. There are no fundamental differences in the way that these seeds, or those from fleshy-fruited plants, survive gut passage. Both plant types are pre-adapted for endozoochory and for seed dispersal mutualisms. informacion[at] Costea et al (2019) The Effect of Gut Passage by Waterbirds on the Seed Coat and Pericarp of Diaspores Lacking "External Flesh": Evidence for Widespread Adaptation to Endozoochory in Angiosperms. PLoS ONE 14(12): e0226551