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Amplification of DNA markers from scat samples of the least weaselMustela nivalis nivalis

Abstract

To test the feasibility of using field-collected scats as a source of DNA in the study of the least weaselMustela nivalis nivalis Linnaeus, 1766, DNA was extracted from scat samples collected from captive weasels using a modified extraction protocol. Using universal primers, the control region of the mitochondrial genome was successfully amplified from scat-extracted DNA. This amplification resulted in two products; one equivalent in size and sequence to the product obtained from tissue-extracted weasel DNA, and the other slightly larger and equivalent in size and sequence to the domestic house mouseMus musculus, the food source of the captive weasels. This demonstrates the reliability of DNA extraction from scats, as well as the possibility, under favourable circumstances, of identifying the prey species from the same samples. In addition, we attempted to amplify microsatellite loci from both tissue and scat-extracted DNA using six primer pairs designed for other mustelids, the American minkMustela vison and the wolverineGulo gulo. While three loci, Mvi57 (American mink), Ggu216 and Ggu234 (wolverine), were found to be polymorphic in the least weasel, amplification of these loci from the scat extracted DNA was only successful for approximately half of the samples. Although further work is needed, the present results suggest that it is possible to use scats as a source of DNA in field studies of the least weasel.

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Wang, R., Painter, J.N. & Hanski, I. Amplification of DNA markers from scat samples of the least weaselMustela nivalis nivalis . Acta Theriol 47, 425–431 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03192467

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Key words

  • mustelids
  • faeces
  • control region
  • microsatellites