New analysis on leech blood foods confirms benefit of iDNA procedures …


A wide survey performed across southern Asia reinforces the idea that the mammal biodiversity of an space can be determined by on the lookout at the DNA discovered in leeches’ blood foods. The new analyze, led by researchers at the American Museum of Organic Historical past, also displays for the initial time that DNA found in leeches can be made use of to detect sure floor birds and, possibly, some bats. The study was posted this month in the journal Systematics and Biodiversity.

“Our new operate has demonstrated that we can decide what mammals are in a guarded location with out hunting, devoid of trapping, without having the use of scat or hair samples, and primarily devoid of camera traps-all of which are problematic methods for one particular purpose or a further,” reported analyze creator Mark Siddall, a curator in the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology. “Instead, by sequencing the host DNA that stays inside of of terrestrial jungle leeches for months just after feeding, we can out-carry out all other approaches of biodiversity monitoring in conditions of precision, completeness, speed, and value. We even get the small mammals that most other techniques miss.”

The usefulness of invertebrate-parasite-derived DNA, called iDNA, was 1st proven in a 2012 examine on 25 leeches observed in Vietnam. Siddall and guide creator Michael Tessler, a postdoctoral fellow in the Museum’s Sackler Institute of Comparative Genomics, had been interested in inspecting how dependable leeches can be as an identification device when surveying a broader vary of geographic locations. The researchers led a crew that gathered and genetically analyzed about 750 terrestrial leeches in the genus Haemadipsa from the forests of Bangladesh, Cambodia, and China. They discovered that the leeches feed at minimum fairly indiscriminately on a huge range of mammals, together with tiny deer referred to as muntjacs, macaque monkeys, wildcats, rodents like porcupines and rats, as perfectly as a susceptible species in the region, a gaur, or Indian bison. They also recovered DNA from a few sorts of floor-dwelling birds and a single species of bat-there are only a handful of previous and considerably anecdotal studies of all those animals currently being targeted by Haemadipsa leeches.

In addition, Siddall and Tessler ended up authors on a recently printed research based on leeches in Bangladesh that compares the iDNA method to digicam traps. They identified that the techniques enhance one particular another, and that, when employed jointly with digicam trapping, leeches can be employed to survey additional fast and to a lot more confidently determine tiny mammal species.

“This perform is turning out to be an very useful instrument for conservation applications, and it’s speedy and effortless to survey a park in this way as you never seriously have to have to research for the leeches-they occur to you hunting for a food,” Tessler mentioned. “You just go on a relaxed hike and make confident you get the leeches ahead of they get you. A snapshot of the vertebrates in an spot can be taken with just one particular day’s truly worth of sampling the latest regular for surveys, camera traps, takes months or for a longer time.”

The new investigation also looks at the genetic variety of the leeches them selves, revealing that there are most likely a lot of new species still to be described.

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New research on leech blood meals confirms value of iDNA methods …