AllGenetics studies the diet of otters using DNA metabarcoding

Our company has collaborated in a feeding ecology study led by researchers from Universidade da Coruña.

AllGenetics’ staff members Neus Marí-Mena, Antón Vizcaíno, and Joaquín Vierna have taken part in a feeding ecology study which has just been published in the journal Hydrobiologia.

The study, led by Alejandro Martínez-Abraín and Marta Vila (Universidade da Coruña) focused on the seasonal diet changes of Lutra lutra otters living in a reservoir.

At AllGenetics, we isolated DNA from 50 otter spraints collected in October 2015 and in February 2016, then analysed them by DNA metabarcoding. To do so, we designed a primer pair which amplified a short fragment of the 12S mitochondrial gene of the otter potential prey items (Salmo truttaPseudochondrostoma durienseCarassius auratusMicropterus salmoides, and Gambusia holbrooki) but prevented amplification from otter DNA due to seven mismatches within the otter 12S gene. After testing the primer pair using DNA from the potential prey items as positive controls, we followed a standard DNA metabarcoding pipeline to detect diet composition of the samples analysed. The DNA metabarcoding results revealed a dietary change from autumn to winter.

AllGenetics is proud to have contributed to this study, which is a clear example of how proper primer design coupled with DNA metabarcoding can easily be applied to detect diet composition in metazoans.