Establishment of a non-invasive DNA sampling method for amphibians

Non-invasive DNA sampling is an important tool in amphibian conservation. Buccal swabs are nowadays replacing the wounding toe-clipping method. Skin and cloaca swabbing are even less invasive and easier to handle than buccal swabbing, but could result in contaminations of genetic material. Therefore, we test if external skin and cloaca swabs are as reliable as buccal swabs for genetic analysis of amphibians. We analysed eight microsatellite loci for the common frog (Rana temporaria, Linnaeus 1758) and compared genotyping results for buccal, skin and cloaca swabs regarding allelic dropouts and false alleles. Furthermore, we compared two DNA extraction methods regarding efficiency and cost. DNA quality and quantity (amplification success, genotyping error rate, in nanogram per microlitre) were comparable among DNA sources and extraction methods. However, skin and cloaca samples exhibited high degrees of contamination with foreign individuals, which was due to sample collection during mating season. Here, we established a simple low budget procedure to receive DNA of amphibians avoiding stressful buccal swabbing or harmful toe clipping. However, the possibility of contaminations of external swabs has to be considered.

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Patrick Lenhardt

Kathrin Theissinger