Journal article

iDNA at Sea: Recovery of Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) Mitochondrial DNA Sequences from the Whale Shark Copepod (Pandarus rhincodonicus) Confirms Global Population Structure

Mark Meekan, Christopher M Austin, Mun H Tan, Nu-Wei V Wei, Adam Miller, Simon J Pierce, David Rowat, Guy Stevens, Tim K Davies, Alessandro Ponzo, Han Ming Gan



The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is an iconic and endangered species with a broad distribution spanning warm-temperate and tropical oceans. Effective conservation management of the species requires an understanding of the degree of genetic connectivity among populations, which is hampered by the need for sampling that involves invasive techniques. Here, the feasibility of minimally-invasive sampling was explored by isolating and sequencing whale shark DNA from a commensal or possibly parasitic copepod, Pandarus rhincodonicus that occurs on the skin of the host. We successfully recovered mitochondrial control region DNA sequences (~1,000 bp) of the host via DNA extraction and polymerase chai..

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University of Melbourne Researchers


Funding Acknowledgements

Funding for this study was provided by the SeaWorld Research and Rescue Foundation, the Save our Seas Foundation, the Monash University Malaysia Tropical Medicine and Biology Platform, Monash University Malaysia School of Science, Quadrant Energy, Australian Institute of Marine Science, The Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation, The Four Seasons Resorts Maldives. Funding for SP came from Aqua-Firma, the Shark Foundation, the Save Our Seas Foundation and two private trusts.