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All samples submitted together are treated as a single project, with pricing quoted based on the test(s) requested and final number of samples for each project. Standard turnaround time from sample receipt to results report delivery is estimated as 5-15 business days (from date of laboratory receipt of sample(s)). We aim to complete each project as expeditiously as possible, but as each project is unique some may take longer to complete than others. An EcoGene team member will be in touch if a project is estimated to take much longer to complete than originally scheduled.

Pricing and data handling


  • Prices will vary depending on the species, sample type/quality, and numbers of samples submitted.
  • Field design and statistical analysis of data if required will also dictate the overall price.
  • We prefer to quote directly to clients on a per-project basis.
  • Contact us to discuss options that ensure best quality data for the most competitive price. 
  • Completion of the Test Request/Quotation Form will form the basis of the agreement of service.

Data handling 

  • Samples remain the property of the client and all results will be confidential. If there is a possibility of the samples being used for another project, distribution to a third party, or the results being incorporated in any publication we will seek written permission.
  • DNA extracted from samples will be kept for three years but any surplus samples will be discarded after project completion unless the client has requested they should be returned. DNA extracts may be used for control purposes internally. Raw data are stored on permanent archives indefinitely and backed up on separate hard drives. 

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Sampling protocol

Specific requirements for avoiding contamination 

The largest problem associated with specimen collection is contamination as DNA tests are very sensitive. It is therefore imperative that all procedures are quality controlled, and the equipment and surfaces used for sample collection are as clean as possible. In addition to the following protocols, we have put together an instructional video describing how to collect different types of samples for DNA analysis. 


  1. When handling animals, use a fresh (previously unused) pair of gloves for each sample 
  2. Use a fresh scalpel/toothpick/swab for each sample
  3. Use only recommended consumables (e.g. swabs and double distilled sterile water)
  4. Use a fresh dissection board (cutting surface; e.g. a Petri dish) for each sample
  5. Use a fresh storage container or envelope for each sample (depending on sample type)
  6. Use freshly prepared storage media (e.g. >96 % ethanol, Longmire buffer, or DS water) 

Blood samples

This sample type is primarily for disease screening and genotyping from birds. We prefer blood samples to be collected into a lysis buffer and stored in screw cap tubes. For most of our routine screening, 10-15 ul of blood is sufficient and is collected into the lysis buffer at a ratio of 1 part blood: 2 parts lysis buffer. We can supply the buffer and collection tubes on request.


Our preferred source of material from trapped/deceased animals is ear tissue. Only a small piece of material is required, for mammals such as rats, stoats, cats, and mice we require a piece of ear approximately 4-5mm2. This can then be stored dry, frozen, or immersed in 95% ethanol or preservation buffer.

Only a small amount of plant tissue is required for species identification, with our preference being fresh or dried material. Examples of suitable plant sample for species identification include: a single seed; leaf(~1-2cm2); stem or root (~1cm3).

Hair samples

Hair samples can be a good source of quality DNA and are easily transported and stored. If samples are being physically removed/plucked from an animal, make sure at least 10 coarse hairs are pulled that retain their follicles. If hair samples are being collected via rubber bands from hair collection tubes, then cut the entire band from the tube. Samples are then stored in manilla envelopes along with a piece of filter paper to ensure the sample remains dry. These can then be posted directly to us.


Faecal samples 

These samples are generally good for identifying species but may be problematic when used for individual identification, which relies on obtaining sufficient quality DNA to provide a reliable result. If there is no other alternative, we can discuss possibilities for this type of sample with you.


Saliva swabs 

These can be taken from carcasseseggshell fragments or any surface where saliva is suspected as having been deposited. Swabbing the sample should occur as soon as possible and before freezing.

  1. Before swabbing, prepare a swab or cotton bud by cutting it in half. Only handle the cut end of the cotton bud. 
  2. Put on surgical gloves and with the prepared dry cotton bud swab the surface of the sample, paying particular attention to the vicinity of any puncture wounds. Swab around the edge and within the internal edges of wounds. If wounds are not apparent swab the entire surface of the sample or areas where feather/fur appears matted. 
  3. If possible, air dry cotton bud/swabs individually for approximately 24 hours but ensure cotton bud swabs cannot touch anything that may have had a predator species in contact with it. 
  4. Once the cotton bud swab has been collected (air-dried for 24 hours where possible), place the cotton bud/swab in a manila envelope or back into its original sheath (swabs only) and seal the envelope. 
  5. Label manila envelope or swab with details of where the sample was found (GPS coordinates if possible); suspected predator; or any other additional identification number; estimated length of time the animal/bird was dead; and the name of the person who collected and swabbed it. Add any notes at the time of collection that may be relevant. 
  6. As soon as possible, send the manila envelope containing cotton bud or sheathed swab to EcoGene. 


Ensure that the carcass is carefully handled (with gloves) and only comes into contact with clean surfaces. Do not process or store a carcass where it can come into direct contact with other carcasses or animal materials.  

Prior to sending, double bag the carcass using only fresh packaging materials, ensure the carcass has been appropriately sealed. Place it in a box or cooler suitable for transport via courier. If possible include ice packs within the packaging, ensuring the carcass is safe from moisture damage. 

If there is a time delay between carcass collection and transportation to the lab, freeze the carcass where possible.  

Please make sure we are expecting the package and send it at the beginning of the week using an overnight service.

Chytrid samples 

The following methodology has been provided by the CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL). 


It is recommended to use Medical Wire & Equipment Co. (UK) MW100-100 sourced from bioMérieux in Australia. Alternative swabs have not been validated. 

  1. Swab comprehensively (e.g. repeat 2-3 times) on the underside of feet, legs, and drink patch. Place the swab back into the container (does not require drying) and store (e.g. containers can be placed in a backpack for the duration of a field trip). 
  2. On return to the laboratory, samples should be stored at 4°C or colder to inhibit growth of other organisms. This is a precautionary measure. 
  3. Submit sample to a laboratory 

Note: Trials have shown that such samples can be stored at room temperature (23°C) for at least one month without loss of sensitivity

Tissue Samples 

  1. Collect samples using either a fresh scalpel or toothpick (depending upon the nature of the sample). REFER to details above about SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS on how to maintain the integrity of the sample(s). 
  2. Place the sample(s) into a clean (unused) collection container(s) and either 
  • either place at 4°C or colder or 
  • or add 70% ethanol and store at room temperature or 4°C until required
  • submit sample to EcoGene 

Sample protocol – international consignments

If sending samples from outside New Zealand, contact EcoGene in the first instance to discuss service and sample labelling requirements.

Once your samples are ready for shipment and an Air International Courier or flight details of a person bringing in the shipment on your behalf have been confirmed, follow these four simple steps to ensure smooth transit and receipt of your samples to us:

Complete the Test Request/Quotation Form and enclose it with the consignment.

For biosecurity reasons, samples will be checked once they reach the New Zealand border. To facilitate rapid clearance through Customs, you must attach a copy of the following both inside and outside the consignment:

  • A copy of our current MPI permit*
  • A letter of authority* that details:
    • Your name/business name and address
    • Number and type of samples and packaging**. These should be described in accordance with the permit conditions. Especially ensure the consignment contains no contaminants or genetically modified organisms.
    • Date of dispatch, flight number and/or any details from the Airway International Courier that links the samples to the consignment. It is useful to know if the courier service includes transfer of the samples from the airport to our Transitional Facility, or whether we need to arrange a separate courier to pick them up once cleared.

*MPI permit and letter of authority can be sourced from EcoGene

**Note there are strict regulations for exporting samples that contain dangerous or hazardous substances. Couriers like Dangerous Goods International specialise in this service, IATA provides information on the packaging of dangerous goods. If in doubt, discuss whether alternative buffers or packaging can be used for your samples.