Molecular gut-content analysis has revolutionized the study of food webs and feeding interactions, allowing the detection of prey DNA within the gut of many organisms. However, successful prey detection is a challenging procedure in which many factors affect every step, starting from the DNA extraction process. Spiders are liquid feeders with branched gut diverticula extending into their legs and throughout the prosoma, thus digestion takes places in different parts of the body and simple gut dissection is not possible. In this study, we investigated differences in prey detectability in DNA extracts from different parts of the spider´s body: legs, prosoma and opisthosoma, using prey-specific PCR and metabarcoding approaches. We performed feeding trials with the woodlouse hunter spider Dysdera verneaui Simon, 1883 (Dysderidae) to estimate the time at which prey DNA is detectable within the predator after feeding. Although we found that all parts of the spider body are suitable for gut-content analysis when using prey-specific PCR approach, results based on metabarcoding suggested the opisthosoma is optimal for detection of predation in spiders because it contained the highest concentration of prey DNA for longer post feeding periods. Other spiders may show different results compared to D. verneaui, but given similarities in the physiology and digestion in different families, it is reasonable to assume this to be common across species and this approach having broad utility across spiders.
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NMH was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship EX-2010-0852 of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Spain (MECD-FECYT). Additional funds were provided by project CGL2012-36863, CGL2016-80651-P from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitivity and 2014SGR1604 from the Catalan Government (MA).
All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files.
Macías-Hernández, Nuria; Athey, Kacie J.; Tonzo, Vanina; Wangensteen, Owen S.; Arnedo, Miquel; and Harwood, James D, "Molecular Gut Content Analysis of Different Spider Body Parts" (2018). Entomology Faculty Publications. 162.
S1 Table. List of target and non-target prey used for specific primer design, indicating the cox1 primers used to amplify them (see also Table 1).
journal.pone.0196589.s002.docx (98 kB)
S2 Table. List of non-target prey tested against the specific primer designed for E. caelata.
journal.pone.0196589.s003.tif (43760 kB)
S1 Fig. DNA decay rate curves in the three body part tested in D. verneaui.