• Question: Would the individuals being sequenced come to any harm or distress?

    Asked by emilyhourican to Barbastelle Bat, Eurasian Otter, European Flat Oyster, Glow Worm, Lundy Cabbage, Scaly Cricket, Scottish Wildcat, Spot Fly, Strapwort on 10 Nov 2017.
    • Photo: Scaly Cricket

      Scaly Cricket answered on 10 Nov 2017:

      No. The samples can be taken from scaly crickets that have been reared in captivity and have died of age (and that have been preserved by freezing).

    • Photo: Eurasian Otter

      Eurasian Otter answered on 10 Nov 2017:

      We will not need to hold/keep any animal captive while the sequencing is taking place.

      All we need to sequence the otter genome is a blood sample or a small tissue sample. Will might use and sequence DNA from a blood sample from a live otter. Alternatively, we might use a tissue sample from an otter that was recently killed by a car when the otter was crossing the road.
      Actually, we have samples from incredibly many otters that get killed every year in traffic in the UK.

    • Photo: Scottish Wildcat

      Scottish Wildcat answered on 12 Nov 2017:

      We can obtain DNA from hair follicles without causing any distress to Wildcats, because they rub their fur off on tree branches and twigs when marking their territory. If they do this near a camera trap we would have good evidence about the cat the fur came from. However, it would be a lot better to get a blood sample from the cat to do a full genome sequence in order to extract the best quality DNA. That would mean capturing the Wildcat. Being captured would not do any harm to a cat and it would be released as soon as possible to minimise any distress caused by being confined in a cage.

    • Photo: Glow Worm

      Glow Worm answered on 13 Nov 2017:

      In the case of a glow worm, one individual would be used, but either at the end of the season or having laid eggs. They will eventually die through lack of energy, as adult glow worms have no mouthparts and can’t feed, though they may take many days to die. So a plunge into liquid nitrogen to prevent cell breakdown would be a quick end.

    • Photo: Strapwort

      Strapwort answered on 13 Nov 2017:

      Strapwort will need to miss a leaf or two, but the plant should be able to recover quite well as it is used to dealing with grazing by herbivores.

    • Photo: Barbastelle Bat

      Barbastelle Bat answered on 14 Nov 2017:

      No. We already have samples to use. In the summer summer we collected blood samples and small wing skin biopsies from barbastelle bats. The bats were caught when foraging in woodlands in the UK and Spain and released within 1 hour of capture. All bats flew away happily, so did not appear to be harmed. We also have a dead bats sent to us from Portugal that we can use in case we need larger quantities of starting material.

    • Photo: European Flat Oyster

      European Flat Oyster answered on 15 Nov 2017:

      We have a technique of anaesthetising oysters so they go to sleep and open up. A tiny piece of their gill can be sampled for DNA work. The animals recover just fine!