Telomere length measurement by qPCR in birds is affected by storage method of blood samples

Reichert, S. et al. (2017) Telomere length measurement by qPCR in birds is affected by storage method of blood samples. Oecologia, 184(2), pp. 341-350. (doi: 10.1007/s00442-017-3887-3) (PMID:28547179)

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Given the potential role of telomeres as biomarkers of individual health and ageing, there is an increasing interest in studying telomere dynamics in a wider range of taxa in the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology. Measuring telomere length across the lifespan in wild animal systems is essential for testing these hypotheses, and may be aided by archived blood samples collected as part of longitudinal field studies. However, sample collection, storage, and DNA extraction methods may influence telomere length measurement, and it may, therefore, be difficult to balance consistency in sampling protocol with making the most of available samples. We used two complementary approaches to examine the impacts of sample storage method on measurements of relative telomere length (RTL) by qPCR, particularly focusing on FTA (Flinders Technology Associates) cards as a long-term storage solution. We used blood samples from wandering albatrosses collected over 14 years and stored in three different ways (n = 179), and also blood samples from captive zebra finches (n = 30) that were each stored using three different methods. Sample storage method influenced RTL in both studies, and samples on FTA cards had significantly shorter RTL measurements. There was no significant correlation between RTL measured in zebra finch blood on FTA cards and the same samples stored either as frozen whole blood or as extracted DNA. These results highlight the importance of consistency of sampling protocol, particularly in the context of long-term field studies, and suggest that FTA cards should not be used as a long-term storage solution to measure RTL without validation.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Ageing, DNA, FTA cards, long-term field study, telomeres, wandering albatross, zebra finch.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Monaghan, Professor Pat and Gillespie, Mr Robert and Griffiths, Mrs Kate and Boner, Dr Winnie and Reichert, Dr Sophie
Authors: Reichert, S., Froy, H., Boner, W., Burg, T. M., Daunt, F., Gillespie, R., Griffiths, K., Lewis, S., Phillips, R. A., Nussey, D. H., and Monaghan, P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Oecologia
ISSN (Online):1432-1939
Published Online:25 May 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in Oceologica 184(2): 341-350
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
545091ECOTELO - The ecological significance of telomere dynamics:environments, individuals and inheritancePatricia MonaghanEuropean Research Council (ERC)20100317/FP7-268926RI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED