Background: A large number of dry-preserved insect specimens exist in collections around the world that might be useful for genetic analyses. However, until now, the recovery of nucleic acids from such specimens has involved at least the partial destruction of the specimen. This is clearly undesirable when dealing with rare species or otherwise important specimens, such as type specimens.
Methodology: We describe a method for the extraction of PCR-amplifiable mitochondrial and nuclear DNA from dry insects without causing external morphological damage. Using PCR to amplify approximately 220 bp of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome c oxidase I, and 250-345 bp fragments of the multi-copy, nuclear 28s ribosomal DNA gene, we demonstrate the efficacy of this method on beetles collected up to 50 years ago.
Conclusions: This method offers a means of obtaining useful genetic information from rare insects without conferring external morphological damage.