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Isolating DNA sourced non-invasively from koala scats: a comparison of four commercial DNA stool kits

Wedrowicz, Faye, Mosse, Jennifer, Wright, Wendy, Hogan, Fiona E.
Conservation genetics resources 2019 v.11 no.2 pp. 219-229
DNA, Phascolarctos cinereus, analytical kits, capillary electrophoresis, data quality, feces, genetic analysis, genotype, genotyping, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, soil
Genetic sampling from faeces is a useful method for obtaining DNA samples non-invasively. The quantity and quality of DNA isolated from faecal samples is, however, an important factor affecting the success of downstream analyses. Commercial DNA isolation kits offer an efficient and convenient means for recovering DNA, but the kit methodology can influence the quantity and quality of DNA obtained. Comparisons of kit performance for the isolation of DNA from non-invasive sources for ecological studies based on genetic analysis are uncommon in the literature. This study compared the quantity and quality of DNA isolated from surface washings of fresh koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) faecal pellets (scats) using four commercial DNA isolation kits: Axygen® AxyPrep™ MAG Soil, Stool, and Water DNA Kit (AX), Bioline ISOLATE Fecal DNA Kit (BL), Qiagen QIAamp® Fast DNA Stool Mini Kit (QFS), and Qiagen QIAamp® DNA Stool Mini Kit (QS). DNA quantitation, standard PCR and electrophoresis, real time PCR and replicate genotyping using capillary electrophoresis were used to compare the performance of resultant DNA isolates. The performance of DNA isolated from koala scats varied substantially with the DNA kit utilised. All kits provided accurate genotypes but with differing amounts of missing data. Overall, kit AX performed best, providing DNA isolates of higher quantity and quality compared to kit QS, which has previously been thoroughly assessed for genotyping reliability using DNA from koala scats. Given the high variability noted, assessing kit performance is an important way to maximise data quality from non-invasively sourced DNA.