[MARMAM] DNA-based diet Publication

Glenn Dunshea glenn.dunshea at gmail.com
Tue Apr 28 19:29:30 PDT 2009

Hi Marmamers,

Here is a publication on a widely applicable DNA-diet method. The
example provided is of an exact method applicable to most
odontocete's, with data from bottlenose dolphins.

Citation: Dunshea G (2009) DNA-Based Diet Analysis for Any Predator.
PLoS ONE 4(4): e5252. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005252



Prey DNA from diet samples can be used as a dietary marker; yet
current methods for prey detection require a priori diet knowledge
and/or are designed ad hoc, limiting their scope. I present a general
approach to detect diverse prey in the feces or gut contents of

Methodology/Principal Findings

In the example outlined, I take advantage of the restriction site for
the endonuclease Pac I which is present in 16S mtDNA of most
Odontoceti mammals, but absent from most other relevant non-mammalian
chordates and invertebrates. Thus in DNA extracted from feces of these
mammalian predators Pac I will cleave and exclude predator DNA from a
small region targeted by novel universal primers, while most prey DNA
remain intact allowing prey selective PCR. The method was optimized
using scat samples from captive bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops
truncatus) fed a diet of 6–10 prey species from three phlya. Up to
five prey from two phyla were detected in a single scat and all but
one minor prey item (2% of the overall diet) were detected across all
samples. The same method was applied to scat samples from free-ranging
bottlenose dolphins; up to seven prey taxa were detected in a single
scat and 13 prey taxa from eight teleost families were identified in


Data and further examples are provided to facilitate rapid transfer of
this approach to any predator. This methodology should prove useful to
zoologists using DNA-based diet techniques in a wide variety of study

And a link to the article:


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