During the winter the Bat Lab team at UCD completed several laboratory tests that were started last October. The aim is to select the best DNA extraction and amplification methods to obtain high quality DNA from the faeces collected by citizen scientists.
Briefly, the “DNA extraction” protocol, is used to extract all the DNA from the arthropod remains present in the faeces. The extracted DNA also contains the DNA from the bat, which we can then simultaneously use to identify which bat species is present in your house.
The second step, the “DNA amplification”, allows us to target the specific DNA sequence we are looking for and then generate millions of copies of it. You can think of this DNA fragment like a little barcode that is unique to each species, just like barcodes on items in a shop.
We have now refined all of these tests and selected three optimised strategies to extract and amplify the DNA from the faeces. In late January, we sent ‘test’ DNA products from each different amplification and extraction strategy to perform the “Sequencing”. The “Sequencing” step is the process used to determine the nucleic sequence of all the “Barcode fragments” amplified during the “DNA Amplification” step. We are awaiting the results from our test pilot study to verify which method works best. This will allow us to develop the best methods for analysing the Bats & Bugs faeces collection!
As we get more exciting results we will keep you informed. Thanks for your help!