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J Microbiol Methods. 2012 Oct;91(1):45-51. doi: 10.1016/j.mimet.2012.07.015. Epub 2012 Jul 22.

Evaluation of different storage methods to characterize the fecal bacterial communities of captive western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla).

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Department of Botany and Zoology, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.


Freezing is considered to be the best method for long-term storage of bacterial DNA from feces; however this method cannot be usually applied for samples of wild primates collected in the challenging conditions of the tropical forest. In order to find an alternative conservation method of fecal samples from wild great apes, we compared freezing with other fixation methods. Fecal samples from 11 captive gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) from three Czech Zoos were stored using freezing, RNA Stabilization Reagent (RNAlater), and 96% ethanol. Subsequently, the samples were examined using culture-independent methods (PCR-DGGE, and Real-time PCR) to qualitatively and quantitatively assess fecal microbiota composition and to compare differences among the storage methods. Noticeably, freezing samples resulted in the highest recoveries of DNA. No significant differences in DNA recovery were found between freezing and using RNAlater; however, significantly lower DNA concentrations were recovered from samples stored in 96% ethanol. Using PCR-DGGE we found that either 96% ethanol, RNAlater or freezing were suitable for preserving bacterial DNA; however fingerprints obtained from RNAlater storage were more similar to those obtained from the frozen method; in comparison to the patterns resulting from storing samples in ethanol. Using qPCR, frozen samples yielded the highest values of bacterial counts, with the exception of Enterobacteriaceae, which showed the highest numbers using samples stored in ethanol. Sequences of amplicons obtained from PCR-DGGE belonged to the families Clostridiaceae, Lactobacillaceae, Staphylococcaceae, and Lachnospiraceae, phylum Firmicutes; however most amplicons showed sequence similarity to previously uncultured microorganisms. Bacteria belonging to the phylum Firmicutes were the most frequently identified species in the fecal bacterial communities of captive western gorillas. The study showed that RNAlater is an optimal storage method when freezing is not possible.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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