Genetic paw print
02/10/2014 // News // Photo: Thomas Stephna/ Projektbüro Wildkatze

The goal is to have lots of wildcats stalking through Germany’s forests again. To review the success of wildlife conservation projects, the cats have to be counted. This is where QIAGEN products come in.

100 years ago, wildcats were still common in many of Europe’s forests.  Today, these untamed relatives of our house cats are highly endangered. The BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany) projects “Safety Net for the Wildcat” and “Wildcat’s Jump” have the goal of reestablishing the species in Germany. But how do the researchers even know how many wildcats there are in an area? “Lure sticks covered in valerian are placed in the forests where the animals live. The smell is so appealing to the cats that they rub themselves against the sticks and their hairs stick to the rough wood,” explains Marc Jungbluth. The QIAGEN Account Manager is responsible for the Senckenberg Research Institute in Gelnhausen, where the hair samples are then analyzed.

“We use the QIAamp DNA Investigator Kit to isolate the DNA from the roots of the hair and, using certain markers, can distinguish reliably between wildcats and house cats. These markers work like a genetic fingerprint for humans,” says Annika Tiesmeyer, doctoral student at the Senckenberg Institute. “The first part of the examination is carried out automatically on one of two QIAcubes.  For the DNA analysis, we use QIAGEN Multiplex PCR Kits.”

Although the hair samples are only collected weekly and are sometimes exposed to days of sun, rain or both, the institute is able to use more than 90 percent of the samples. “Our experience with the QIAGEN instruments has been very positive. We only need a few hairs for the analysis,” says Annika Tiesmeyer.

By the way, wildcats aren’t the institute’s only “animal” customers: the scientists use the QIAamp DNA Stool Mini Kit to examine hundreds of stool samples a year to investigate the distribution of Germany’s wolf population.


The goal is to have lots of wildcats stalking through Germany’s forests again. To review the success of wildlife conservation projects, the cats have to be counted. This is where QIAGEN products come in.

100 years ago, wildcats were still common in many of Europe’s forests.  Today, these untamed relatives of our house cats are highly endangered. The BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany) projects “Safety Net for the Wildcat” and “Wildcat’s Jump” have the goal of reestablishing the species in Germany. But how do the researchers even know how many wildcats there are in an area? “Lure sticks covered in valerian are placed in the forests where the animals live. The smell is so appealing to the cats that they rub themselves against the sticks and their hairs stick to the rough wood,” explains Marc Jungbluth. The QIAGEN Account Manager is responsible for the Senckenberg Research Institute in Gelnhausen, where the hair samples are then analyzed.

“We use the QIAamp DNA Investigator Kit to isolate the DNA from the roots of the hair and, using certain markers, can distinguish reliably between wildcats and house cats. These markers work like a genetic fingerprint for humans,” says Annika Tiesmeyer, doctoral student at the Senckenberg Institute. “The first part of the examination is carried out automatically on one of two QIAcubes.  For the DNA analysis, we use QIAGEN Multiplex PCR Kits.”

Although the hair samples are only collected weekly and are sometimes exposed to days of sun, rain or both, the institute is able to use more than 90 percent of the samples. “Our experience with the QIAGEN instruments has been very positive. We only need a few hairs for the analysis,” says Annika Tiesmeyer.

By the way, wildcats aren’t the institute’s only “animal” customers: the scientists use the QIAamp DNA Stool Mini Kit to examine hundreds of stool samples a year to investigate the distribution of Germany’s wolf population.