Department of Biology

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Eva Egelyng Sigsgaard

Genome‐scale target capture of mitochondrial and nuclear environmental DNA from water samples

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Environmental DNA (eDNA) provides a promising supplement to traditional sampling methods for population genetic inferences, but current studies have almost entirely focused on short mitochondrial markers. Here, we develop one mitochondrial and one nuclear set of target capture probes for the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) and test them on seawater samples collected in Qatar to investigate the potential of target capture for eDNA-based population studies. The mitochondrial target capture successfully retrieved ~235× (90× − 352× per base position) coverage of the whale shark mitogenome. Using a minor allele frequency of 5%, we find 29 variable sites throughout the mitogenome, indicative of at least five contributing individuals. We also retrieved numerous mitochondrial reads from an abundant nontarget species, mackerel tuna (Euthynnus affinis), showing a clear relationship between sequence similarity to the capture probes and the number of captured reads. The nuclear target capture probes retrieved only a few reads and polymorphic variants from the whale shark, but we successfully obtained millions of reads and thousands of polymorphic variants with different allele frequencies from E. affinis. We demonstrate that target capture of complete mitochondrial genomes and thousands of nuclear loci is possible from aquatic eDNA samples. Our results highlight that careful probe design, taking into account the range of divergence between target and nontarget sequences as well as presence of nontarget species at the sampling site, is crucial to consider. eDNA sampling coupled with target capture approaches provide an efficient means with which to retrieve population genomic data from aggregating and spawning aquatic species.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Ecology Resources
Pages (from-to)690-702
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

    Research areas

  • cross-capture, environmental DNA, mitogenome, nuclear DNA, population genomics, target capture

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