In studying the genomes of extinct species, two principal limitations are typically the small quantities of endogenous ancient DNA and its degraded condition, even though products of up to 1,600 base pairs (bp) have been amplified in rare cases. Using small overlapping polymerase chain reaction products, longer stretches of sequences or even whole mitochondrial genomes can be reconstructed, but this approach is limited by the number of amplifications that can be performed from rare samples.
We obtained fresh dung samples from 202 (133 mother-offspring pairs) savannah elephants (Loxodonta africana) in Samburu, Kenya, and genotyped them at 20 microsatellite loci to assess genotyping success and errors. A total of 98.6% consensus genotypes was successfully obtained, with allelic dropout and false allele rates at 1.6% (n = 46) and 0.9% (n = 37) of heterozygous and total consensus genotypes, respectively, and an overall genotyping error rate of 2.5% based on repeat typing.
(Z)-7-dodecenyl acetate (Z7-12:Ac) is present in the urine of female Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) approaching ovulation and functions as a female-to-male sex pheromone. Here we show that a significant fraction of the pheromone in the urine is bound to a protein, elephant serum albumin (ESA), and provide evidence for key physiological functions of urinary ESA.
Mammals can be molecularly sexed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of Y chromosome fragments or coamplification of homologous fragments from both sex chromosomes, which are discriminated by size polymorphism or Y-specific restriction digestion. Although coamplification of X and Y fragments is more reliable, size polymorphism in homologous fragments is uncommon and Y-specific restriction site identification requires screening with a battery of enzymes or cloning.
A drastic decline has occurred in the size of the Uganda elephant population in the last 40 years, exacerbated by two main factors; an increase in the size of the human population and poaching for ivory. One of the attendant consequences of such a decline is a reduction in the amount of genetic diversity in the surviving populations due to increased effects of random genetic drift. Information about the amount of genetic variation within and between the remaining populations is vital for their future conservation and management.