High-throughput sequencing of insect specimens with sub-optimal DNA preservation using a practical, plate-based Illumina-compatible Tn5 transposase library preparation method

Cobb L. et all.

Entomological sampling and storage conditions often prioritise efficiency, practicality and conservation of morphological characteristics, and may therefore be suboptimal for DNA preservation. This practice can impact downstream molecular applications, such as the generation of high-throughput genomic libraries, which often requires substantial DNA input amounts. Here, we use a practical Tn5 transposase tagmentation-based library preparation method optimised for 96-well plates and low yield DNA extracts from insect legs that were stored under sub-optimal conditions for DNA preservation. The samples were kept in field vehicles for extended periods of time, before long-term storage in ethanol in the freezer, or dry at room temperature. By reducing DNA input to 6ng, more samples with sub-optimal DNA yields could be processed. We matched this low DNA input with a 6-fold dilution of a commercially available tagmentation enzyme, significantly reducing library preparation costs. Costs and workload were further suppressed by direct post-amplification pooling of individual libraries. We generated medium coverage (>3-fold) genomes for 88 out of 90 specimens, with an average of approximately 10-fold coverage. While samples stored in ethanol yielded significantly less DNA compared to those which were stored dry, these samples had superior sequencing statistics, with longer sequencing reads and higher rates of endogenous DNA. Furthermore, we find that the efficiency of tagmentation-based library preparation can be improved by a thorough post-amplification bead clean-up which selects against both short and large DNA fragments. By opening opportunities for the use of sub-optimally preserved, low yield DNA extracts, we broaden the scope of whole genome studies of insect specimens. We therefore expect these results and this protocol to be valuable for a range of applications in the field of entomology.


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March, 2024


Products used in this publication

  • Tubes
    Tagmentase (Tn5 transposase) - loaded
  • Kit icon
    Tagmentation Buffer (2x)


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