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      A new versatile primer set targeting a short fragment of the mitochondrial COI region for metabarcoding metazoan diversity: application for characterizing coral reef fish gut contents

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          Abstract

          Introduction

          The PCR-based analysis of homologous genes has become one of the most powerful approaches for species detection and identification, particularly with the recent availability of Next Generation Sequencing platforms (NGS) making it possible to identify species composition from a broad range of environmental samples. Identifying species from these samples relies on the ability to match sequences with reference barcodes for taxonomic identification. Unfortunately, most studies of environmental samples have targeted ribosomal markers, despite the fact that the mitochondrial Cytochrome c Oxidase subunit I gene (COI) is by far the most widely available sequence region in public reference libraries. This is largely because the available versatile (“universal”) COI primers target the 658 barcoding region, whose size is considered too large for many NGS applications. Moreover, traditional barcoding primers are known to be poorly conserved across some taxonomic groups.

          Results

          We first design a new PCR primer within the highly variable mitochondrial COI region, the “mlCOIintF” primer. We then show that this newly designed forward primer combined with the “jgHCO2198” reverse primer to target a 313 bp fragment performs well across metazoan diversity, with higher success rates than versatile primer sets traditionally used for DNA barcoding (i.e. LCO1490/HCO2198). Finally, we demonstrate how the shorter COI fragment coupled with an efficient bioinformatics pipeline can be used to characterize species diversity from environmental samples by pyrosequencing. We examine the gut contents of three species of planktivorous and benthivorous coral reef fish (family: Apogonidae and Holocentridae). After the removal of dubious COI sequences, we obtained a total of 334 prey Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) belonging to 14 phyla from 16 fish guts. Of these, 52.5% matched a reference barcode (>98% sequence similarity) and an additional 32% could be assigned to a higher taxonomic level using Bayesian assignment.

          Conclusions

          The molecular analysis of gut contents targeting the 313 COI fragment using the newly designed mlCOIintF primer in combination with the jgHCO2198 primer offers enormous promise for metazoan metabarcoding studies. We believe that this primer set will be a valuable asset for a range of applications from large-scale biodiversity assessments to food web studies.

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          Most cited references 36

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          The ecology of individuals: incidence and implications of individual specialization.

          Most empirical and theoretical studies of resource use and population dynamics treat conspecific individuals as ecologically equivalent. This simplification is only justified if interindividual niche variation is rare, weak, or has a trivial effect on ecological processes. This article reviews the incidence, degree, causes, and implications of individual-level niche variation to challenge these simplifications. Evidence for individual specialization is available for 93 species distributed across a broad range of taxonomic groups. Although few studies have quantified the degree to which individuals are specialized relative to their population, between-individual variation can sometimes comprise the majority of the population's niche width. The degree of individual specialization varies widely among species and among populations, reflecting a diverse array of physiological, behavioral, and ecological mechanisms that can generate intrapopulation variation. Finally, individual specialization has potentially important ecological, evolutionary, and conservation implications. Theory suggests that niche variation facilitates frequency-dependent interactions that can profoundly affect the population's stability, the amount of intraspecific competition, fitness-function shapes, and the population's capacity to diversify and speciate rapidly. Our collection of case studies suggests that individual specialization is a widespread but underappreciated phenomenon that poses many important but unanswered questions.
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            A plea for DNA taxonomy

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              A universal DNA mini-barcode for biodiversity analysis

              Background The goal of DNA barcoding is to develop a species-specific sequence library for all eukaryotes. A 650 bp fragment of the cytochrome c oxidase 1 (CO1) gene has been used successfully for species-level identification in several animal groups. It may be difficult in practice, however, to retrieve a 650 bp fragment from archival specimens, (because of DNA degradation) or from environmental samples (where universal primers are needed). Results We used a bioinformatics analysis using all CO1 barcode sequences from GenBank and calculated the probability of having species-specific barcodes for varied size fragments. This analysis established the potential of much smaller fragments, mini-barcodes, for identifying unknown specimens. We then developed a universal primer set for the amplification of mini-barcodes. We further successfully tested the utility of this primer set on a comprehensive set of taxa from all major eukaryotic groups as well as archival specimens. Conclusion In this study we address the important issue of minimum amount of sequence information required for identifying species in DNA barcoding. We establish a novel approach based on a much shorter barcode sequence and demonstrate its effectiveness in archival specimens. This approach will significantly broaden the application of DNA barcoding in biodiversity studies.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Front Zool
                Front. Zool
                Frontiers in Zoology
                BioMed Central
                1742-9994
                2013
                14 June 2013
                : 10
                : 34
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Laboratoire d'Excellence "CORAIL", USR 3278 CRIOBE CNRS-EPHE, CBETM de l’Université de Perpignan, 66860, Perpignan Cedex, France
                [2 ]Department of Invertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, P.O. Box 37012, MRC-163, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA
                [3 ]National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
                [4 ]Montpellier SupAgro (UMR AGAP), Montpellier, France
                [5 ]Biology Department, City College of New York, New York, NY 10031, USA
                [6 ]The Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, NY 10016, USA
                [7 ]Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
                Article
                1742-9994-10-34
                10.1186/1742-9994-10-34
                3686579
                23767809
                Copyright ©2013 Leray et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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