Mol Ecol Resour 17 (6) e111-e121 [2017-11-00; online 2017-08-03]
Population-scale molecular studies of endangered and cryptic species are often limited by access to high-quality samples. The use of noninvasively collected samples or museum-preserved specimens reduces the pressure on modern populations by removing the need to capture and handle live animals. However, endogenous DNA content in such samples is low, making shotgun sequencing a financially prohibitive approach. Here, we apply a target enrichment method to retrieve mitochondrial genomes from 65 museum specimens and 56 noninvasively collected faecal samples of two endangered great ape species, Grauer's gorilla and the eastern chimpanzee. We show that the applied method is suitable for a wide range of sample types that differ in endogenous DNA content, increasing the proportion of target reads to over 300-fold. By systematically evaluating biases introduced during target enrichment of pooled museum samples, we show that capture is less efficient for fragments shorter or longer than the baits, that the proportion of human contaminating reads increases postcapture although capture efficiency is lower for human compared to gorilla fragments with a gorilla-generated bait, and that the rate of jumping PCR is considerable, but can be controlled for with a double-barcoding approach. We succeed in capturing complete mitochondrial genomes from faecal samples, but observe reduced capture efficiency as sequence divergence increases between the bait and target species. As previously shown for museum specimens, we demonstrate here that mitochondrial genome capture from field-collected faecal samples is a robust and reliable approach for population-wide studies of nonmodel organisms.