Getting DNA from foraminifers is a difficult task, but it can greatly help the identification of species and the phylogeny of the group (e.g. Pawlowski, 2000; Schweizer et al., 2008; Pawlowski & Holzmann, 2014) which are still mainly based on test morphology. Therefore, it is crucial to document the test morphology of the sampled specimens and extract DNA from them separately from each other (Pawlowski & Holzmann, 2014). To increase the chances of recovering DNA from a single individual, it is best to pick live foraminifers. However, a major question is how long DNA can outlast an organism after its death in natural conditions (e.g. Lindahl, 1993). This question may seem trivial to biologists but many foraminiferologists with a geological background question the length of time of decay for DNA in situ. The preservation of DNA when storing foraminifers after sampling has been discussed previously (Holzmann & Pawlowski, 1996), but not its preservation in situ in intertidal conditions. The present experiment is designed to test how long after death DNA can still be obtained with routine DNA amplifications when picking dead foraminifers instead of living ones in intertidal environments.
Material and Methods
Sampling and picking of live specimens
Surface sediment was collected in an intertidal area of the Wadden Sea (Den Oever, The Netherlands, 52°56′24″N, 5°1′19″E), in May 2006 during the spring phytoplankton bloom. The sediment was …