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PLoS One. 2013 Apr 18;8(4):e61471. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061471. Print 2013.

Parallel tagged next-generation sequencing on pooled samples - a new approach for population genetics in ecology and conservation.

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Centre for Reproduction and Genomics, Department of Anatomy, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.


Next-generation sequencing (NGS) on pooled samples has already been broadly applied in human medical diagnostics and plant and animal breeding. However, thus far it has been only sparingly employed in ecology and conservation, where it may serve as a useful diagnostic tool for rapid assessment of species genetic diversity and structure at the population level. Here we undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the accuracy, practicality and limitations of parallel tagged amplicon NGS on pooled population samples for estimating species population diversity and structure. We obtained 16S and Cyt b data from 20 populations of Leiopelma hochstetteri, a frog species of conservation concern in New Zealand, using two approaches - parallel tagged NGS on pooled population samples and individual Sanger sequenced samples. Data from each approach were then used to estimate two standard population genetic parameters, nucleotide diversity (π) and population differentiation (FST), that enable population genetic inference in a species conservation context. We found a positive correlation between our two approaches for population genetic estimates, showing that the pooled population NGS approach is a reliable, rapid and appropriate method for population genetic inference in an ecological and conservation context. Our experimental design also allowed us to identify both the strengths and weaknesses of the pooled population NGS approach and outline some guidelines and suggestions that might be considered when planning future projects.

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