Using eggshell membranes as a DNA source for population genetic research


In the context of population genetic research, a faster and less invasive method of DNA sampling would allow large-scale assessments of genetic diversity and genetic differentiation with the help of volunteer observers. The aim of this study was to investigate the usefulness of eggshell membranes as a DNA source for population genetic research, by addressing eggshell membrane DNA quality, degeneration and cross-contamination. To this end, a comparison was made with blood-derived DNA samples. We have demonstrated 100% successful DNA extraction from post-hatched Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) eggshell membranes as well as from blood samples. Using 11 microsatellite loci, DNA amplification success was 99.1% for eggshell membranes and 97.7% for blood samples. Genetic information within eggshell membrane DNA in comparison to blood DNA was not affected (F ST = −0.01735, P = 0.999) by degeneration or possible cross-contamination. Furthermore, neither degeneration nor cross-contamination was apparent in total genotypic comparison of eggshell membrane DNA and blood sample DNA. Our research clearly illustrates that eggshell membranes can be used for population genetic research.

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We hereby declare that the experiments comply with the current laws of the country in which they were performed. We would like to thank Theunis Piersma, Jos Hooijmeijer, Petra de Goeij, Pedro Lourenco and the rest of the Groningen University Black-tailed Godwit group for their help in collecting eggshells and blood samples, storing the eggshells and providing laboratory space for DNA extractions. Marco van der Velde from the University of Groningen was of great help with these extractions. Yvonne Verkuil from the Groningen University helped with understanding the Arlequin and Micro-checker software. Klaas Vrieling and Rene Glas of the Leiden Institute of Biology (IBL) were helpful with PCR amplifications and providing laboratory space. We are also grateful to Nigel Harle for brushing up our English.

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Correspondence to Krijn Baptist Trimbos.

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Communicated by M. Wink.

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Trimbos, K.B., Broekman, J., Kentie, R. et al. Using eggshell membranes as a DNA source for population genetic research. J Ornithol 150, 915–920 (2009).

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  • Limosa limosa
  • Population genetics
  • Microsatellite
  • Eggshell membrane
  • DNA quality