Researchers Use Leeches to Track Animals

DNA could provide data

Apr 24, 2012
Outside Magazine

DNA recovered from leech stomachs could be used to gather data on endangered animals, according to a group of European scientists. After discovering that DNA from goat blood fed to lab-raised leeches could still be detected in them more than four months later, geneticist Thomas Gilbert and his team at the University of Copenhagen joined up with WWF-affiliated ecologist Nicholas Wilkinson to collect samples of the bloodsuckers from Vietnam's Annamite mountains. When they tested the leeches, the researchers found DNA from rare deer and rabbits native to the area. The scientists hope that the technique could be used to help determine the range of data-deficient species such as the saola, an extremely rare Vietnamese antelope.

Read more at Scientific American

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