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Enzymatic digestion – a new method for egg extraction from dry female collection specimens (Lepidoptera: Geometridae)

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image of Insect Systematics & Evolution

Eggs suitable for taxonomic study can be yielded from dry female collection specimens by enzymatic digestion of the abdomen. This method had been proposed recently by Knölke et al. (2005) for obtaining DNA for sequence analysis and maceration of tissues for the preparation of genitalia. Hence, enzymatic digestion can provide, simultaneously, three completely different data sets for taxonomic and phylogenetic studies from dry female collection specimens. We used protease K (PK) to macerate the abdomens of and to extract eggs from 67 dried female moths of 20 species (Lepidoptera: Geometridae). Protease concentration and duration of digestion largely determined the effectiveness of egg extraction and the quality of the eggs for examination of morphological features for taxonomic study, whilst the historical age of the specimen, humidity during storage and the individual age of females were negligible. Optimal egg extraction provided clear scanning electron micrographs of chorionic sculpturing of similar quality to those produced from fresh eggs of the same species.


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