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Testing compatibility between molecular and morphological techniques for arthropod systematics: a minimally destructive DNA extraction method that preserves morphological integrity, and the effect of lactic acid on DNA quality

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Three practical aspects related to the preservation and destruction of DNA and/or morphological characters of spiders were examined: potential morphological damage during non-destructive DNA extraction was assessed by counting trichobothria, a fragile sensorial feature found on spider legs; the effect on yield of non-destructive DNA extraction; and whether possible DNA degradation is caused by residues of lactic acid, which is used as a temporary mounting medium for the study of morphological structures in spiders and insects. Destructive extractions yielded higher amounts of DNA than non-destructive methods. However, non-destructive methods yielded usable amounts of DNA while leaving delicate trichobothria intact. Of the non-destructive extractions, a longer digestion period (36 h vs. 12) yielded higher amounts of DNA and did not damage trichobothria. Lactic acid did not induce short-term DNA degradation or inhibit PCR reactions, even at high concentrations. These results show compatibility between molecular and morphological requirements without compromising DNA quality or specimen integrity.

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We are grateful to Marshal Hedin for the use of facilities and resources of his laboratory and for comments on the manuscript; we thank Joe Deas, Jr. for laboratory assistance; and Darrell Ubick for his company on the field trip. Tim New, Darren Smalley and two anonymous reviewers provided suggestions that improved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Pierre Paquin.

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Paquin, P., Vink, C.J. Testing compatibility between molecular and morphological techniques for arthropod systematics: a minimally destructive DNA extraction method that preserves morphological integrity, and the effect of lactic acid on DNA quality. J Insect Conserv 13, 453–457 (2009).

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