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A procedure for combined genitalia dissection and DNA extraction in Lepidoptera

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image of Insect Systematics & Evolution

Extraction of DNA from Lepidoptera is a destructive procedure and curators are often reluctant to provide museum specimens for molecular investigations. On the other hand, dissection of abdomens and genitalia is a standard procedure for description and identification of species and generally accepted even for type material. We present a method that combines the investigation of morphological traits in genitalia with the analysis of DNA sequence information by modifying the dissection protocol. Maceration of abdomens in potassium hydroxide is replaced by enzymatic digestion of soft tissue followed by DNA extraction. DNA extracted from abdomens is suitable for sequencing, as shown for the mitochondrial COI gene appropriate for species identification. Enzymatically treated abdomens proved to be sufficient for preservation of morphological traits. Recommendations are given for appropriate treatment of collected specimens and for routine use of enzymatic digestion.


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