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Marissa Le Lec and Lara Urban

Portable real-time sequencing to safeguard critically endangered wildlife

Abstract

An increasing number of wild species are on the brink of extinction, rendering them vulnerable to inbreeding and catastrophic events. Here, we leveraged in situ real-time sequencing to safeguard the kākāpō, a critically endangered parrot endemic to New Zealand. We established in situ DNA extraction, nanopore sequencing, and data analysis on a remote sanctuary island to provide conservationists rapid access to genomic monitoring approaches. We assessed the success rate of artificial insemination through parentage analyses of kākāpō chicks, determined their sex for adjusting healthcare requirements, and monitored recurring Aspergillosis outbreaks. This approach has opened completely new avenues for safeguarding endangered species and for rapidly adjusting their conservation management.