[MARMAM] New Paper: Thar She Blows! A Novel Method for DNA Collection from Cetacean Blow

Eric Patterson eric.m.patterson at gmail.com
Wed Aug 25 19:32:55 PDT 2010

Dear Colleagues,

We would like to inform you of a new publication now available free online
at PLoS ONE (see link below):

Frère C.H., Krzyszczyk, E., Patterson E.M., Hunter, S., Ginsburg, A., Mann,
J. (2010). Thar she blows! A novel method for DNA collection from cetacean
blow. PloS ONE. 5(8)e1229

Molecular tools are now widely used to address crucial management and
conservation questions. To date, dart biopsying has been the most commonly
used method for collecting genetic data from cetaceans; however, this method
has some drawbacks. Dart biopsying is considered inappropriate for young
animals and has recently come under scrutiny from ethical boards,
conservationists, and the general public. Thus, identifying alternative
genetic collection techniques for cetaceans remains a priority, especially
for internationally protected species.

*Methodology/Principal Findings*
In this study, we investigated whether blow-sampling, which involves
collecting exhalations from the blowholes of cetaceans, could be developed
as a new less invasive method for DNA collection. Our current methodology
was developed using six bottlenose dolphins, *Tursiops** **truncatus*,
housed at the National Aquarium, Baltimore (USA), from which we were able to
collect both blow and blood samples. For all six individuals, we found that
their mitochondrial and microsatellite DNA profile taken from blow, matched
their corresponding mitochondrial and microsatellite DNA profile collected
from blood. This indicates that blow-sampling is a viable alternative method
for DNA collection.

In this study, we show that blow-sampling provides a viable and less
invasive method for collection of genetic data, even for small cetaceans. In
contrast to dart biopsying, the advantage of this method is that it
capitalizes on the natural breathing behaviour of dolphins and can be
applied to even very young dolphins. Both biopsy and blow-sampling require
close proximity of the boat, but blow-sampling can be achieved when dolphins
voluntarily bow-ride and involves no harmful contact.

Best Regards,
Eric Patterson
PhD Student
Department of Biology
Georgetown University
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