Congratulations to the new Program for Conservation Genomics (PCG), directed by Dmitri Petrov and hosted by Stanford CEHG, for the pre-print release of their research on "Empowering conservation practice with efficient and economical genotyping from poor quality samples using mPCRseq."
Authors: Meghana Natesh, Ryan Taylor, Nathan Truelove, Elizabeth Hadly, Stephen Palumbi, Uma Ramakrishnan, Dmitri Petrov
Abstract: Genetic tools are widely used in conservation but expansion to genomic scale data that are rapid and cost effective has been slow. Most genomic tools are developed for high quality DNA sources from lab or medical settings. So far, genetic data from market or field settings assess easily amplified mitochondrial DNA or a few microsatellites. Here we use multiplex PCR with low quality DNA from feces, hair, and cooked samples to quickly provide multi-locus data from many SNPs. We demonstrate the wide range of potential applications through tools to monitor individual wild tigers and track commercial trade in Caribbean queen conch. 100 SNPs from degraded tiger samples identified individuals, discerned close relatives, and detected population differentiation. 62 SNPs from conch fritters and field collected samples identified individuals, tested for close kin and detected population structure. Our study provides proof of concept for a rapid, simple, cost-effective, and scalable method, a framework that can be applied to other conservation scenarios previously limited by low quality DNA samples. These approaches provide a critical advance for wildlife monitoring and forensics, open the door to field-ready testing, and will strengthen the use of science in policy decisions and wildlife trade.