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Systematic melittology: where to from here?

Systematic Entomology

Wiley-Blackwell

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      DNA barcoding and taxonomy in Diptera: a tale of high intraspecific variability and low identification success.

      DNA barcoding and DNA taxonomy have recently been proposed as solutions to the crisis of taxonomy and received significant attention from scientific journals, grant agencies, natural history museums, and mainstream media. Here, we test two key claims of molecular taxonomy using 1333 mitochondrial COI sequences for 449 species of Diptera. We investigate whether sequences can be used for species identification ("DNA barcoding") and find a relatively low success rate (< 70%) based on tree-based and newly proposed species identification criteria. Misidentifications are due to wide overlap between intra- and interspecific genetic variability, which causes 6.5% of all query sequences to have allospecific or a mixture of allo- and conspecific (3.6%) best-matching barcodes. Even when two COI sequences are identical, there is a 6% chance that they belong to different species. We also find that 21% of all species lack unique barcodes when consensus sequences of all conspecific sequences are used. Lastly, we test whether DNA sequences yield an unambiguous species-level taxonomy when sequence profiles are assembled based on pairwise distance thresholds. We find many sequence triplets for which two of the three pairwise distances remain below the threshold, whereas the third exceeds it; i.e., it is impossible to consistently delimit species based on pairwise distances. Furthermore, for species profiles based on a 3% threshold, only 47% of all profiles are consistent with currently accepted species limits, 20% contain more than one species, and 33% only some sequences from one species; i.e., adopting such a DNA taxonomy would require the redescription of a large proportion of the known species, thus worsening the taxonomic impediment. We conclude with an outlook on the prospects of obtaining complete barcode databases and the future use of DNA sequences in a modern integrative taxonomy.
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        The perils of DNA barcoding and the need for integrative taxonomy.

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          DNA barcoding will often fail to discover new animal species over broad parameter space.

          With increasing force, genetic divergence of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is being argued as the primary tool for discovery of animal species. Two thresholds of single-gene divergence have been proposed: reciprocal monophyly, and 10 times greater genetic divergence between than within species (the "10x rule"). To explore quantitatively the utility of each approach, we couple neutral coalescent theory and the classical Bateson-Dobzhansky-Muller (BDM) model of speciation. The joint stochastic dynamics of these two processes demonstrate that both thresholds fail to "discover" many reproductively isolated lineages under a single incompatibility BDM model, especially when BDM loci have been subject to divergent selection. Only when populations have been isolated for > 4 million generations did these thresholds achieve error rates of < 10% under our model that incorporates variable population sizes. The high error rate evident in simulations is corroborated with six empirical data sets. These properties suggest that single-gene, high-throughput approaches to discovering new animal species will bias large-scale biodiversity surveys, particularly toward missing reproductively isolated lineages that have emerged by divergent selection or other mechanisms that accelerate reproductive isolation. Because single-gene thresholds for species discovery can result in substantial error at recent divergence times, they will misrepresent the correspondence between recently isolated populations and reproductively isolated lineages (= species).
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            Systematic Entomology
            Wiley-Blackwell
            03076970
            January 2011
            January 2011
            : 36
            : 1
            : 2-15
            10.1111/j.1365-3113.2010.00544.x
            © 2011

            http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/tdm_license_1.1

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