Ishizuka, S., Kawamoto, Y., Toda, K. et al. 2019. Bonobos’ saliva remaining on the pith of terrestrial herbaceous vegetation can serve as non-invasive wild genetic resources. Primates 60(1), 7–13.

Evaluating the genetic diversity of natural populations of endangered species is important for conservation. Although the genetic analysis of wildlife usually requires collecting DNA non-invasively, the variety of non-invasive DNA sampling methods is limited for each species. We present a method to obtain DNA of an endangered species, the bonobo (Pan paniscus), in which the pith of the terrestrial herbaceous vegetation (THV) that they consumed was newly utilized. We investigated the (1) frequency of encountering remnant saliva on three types of THV pith; (2) concentrations of DNA in the saliva samples by the real-time quantitative PCR; and (3) rates of positive PCR, accurate genotyping, and allelic drop out by analyzing two autosomal microsatellite loci (D7s817 and D9s910). The number of remnant saliva samples was recorded by following the bonobo groups on a daily basis. The frequency of encountering DNA samples was higher in saliva samples than in fecal samples. More than half of the saliva samples remaining on two types of THV pith provided sufficient concentrations of bonobo DNA (> 200 pg/μl). Rates of positive PCR and accurate genotyping were high, and allelic drop out rate was low when the amount of template DNA was above 200 pg per reaction. Our results suggest that the remnants of bonobo saliva on the pith of THV are a potential resource for obtaining DNA, and better than other kinds of samples from the perspective of the abundant sampling opportunities.

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