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Keywords:

  • 454 sequencing;
  • buccal swabs;
  • DNA sampling;
  • Hyla arborea;
  • Ichthyosaura alpestris;
  • skin swabs

Abstract

This study introduces a novel DNA sampling method in amphibians using skin swabs. We assessed the relevancy of skin swabs relevancy for genetic studies by amplifying a set of 17 microsatellite markers in the alpine newt Ichthyosaura alpestris, including 14 new polymorphic loci, and a set of 11 microsatellite markers in Hyla arborea, from DNA collected with buccal swabs (the standard swab method), dorsal skin swabs and ventral skin swabs. We tested for quality and quantity of collected DNA with each method by comparing electrophoresis migration patterns. The consistency between genotypes obtained from skin swabs and buccal swabs was assessed. Dorsal swabs performed better than ventral swabs in both species, possibly due to differences in skin structure. Skin swabbing proved to be a useful alternative to buccal swabbing for small or vulnerable animals: by drastically limiting handling, this method may improve the trade-off between the scientific value of collected data, individual welfare and species conservation. In addition, the 14 new polymorphic microsatellites for the alpine newt will increase the power of genetic studies in this species. In four populations from France (= 19–25), the number of alleles per locus varied from 2 to 16 and expected heterozygosities ranged from 0.04 to 0.91. Presence of null alleles was detected in two markers and two pairs displayed gametic disequilibrium. No locus appeared to be sex-linked.