Authors: Lee, Patricia L. M.
Brief summary of the paper: It would not be an exaggeration to say that among molecular technologies, it is PCR (polymerase chain reaction) that underpins the discipline of molecular ecology as we know it today. With PCR, it has been possible to target the amplification of particular fragments of DNA, which can then be analysed in a multitude of ways.
The capability of PCR to amplify DNA from a mere handful of copies further means that conservationists and ecologists are able to sample DNA unobtrusively and with minimal disturbance to the environment and the organisms of interest. However, a key disadvantage of PCR-based methods has been the necessity for a generally non-portable, laboratory setting to undertake the time-consuming thermocycling protocols.
LAMP (loop-mediated isothermal amplification) offers a logistically simpler protocol: a relatively rapid DNA amplification reaction occurs at one temperature, and the products are visualized with a colour change within the reaction tubes. In the first field application of LAMP for an ecological study, Centeno-Cuadros et al. (2016) demonstrates how LAMP can be used to determine the sex of three raptor species. By enabling DNA amplification in situ and in ‘real-time’, LAMP promises to revolutionize how molecular ecology is practised in the field.