LARGE-SCALE BARCODING OF PORTUGUESE MOTHS: ACCELERATING SPECIES INVENTORIES WHILE REVEALING EXOTIC SPECIES, SEXUAL DIMORPHISM AND CRYPTIC DIVERSITY

LARGE-SCALE BARCODING OF PORTUGUESE MOTHS: ACCELERATING SPECIES INVENTORIES WHILE REVEALING EXOTIC SPECIES, SEXUAL DIMORPHISM AND CRYPTIC DIVERSITY

Sónia Ferreira (CIBIO-InBIO, Portugal) | November 21st, 2017 | 7th International Barcode of Life Conference, Kruger National Park, South Africa

 

Lepidoptera is a highly diverse order of insects with over 2500 species listed for Portugal. Moths have a wide ecological role as they act as pollinators and are prey of many organisms. Moreover, some species cause significant impact on agriculture, therefore developing cost-efficient monitoring schemes is fundamental. Molecular identification of taxa using DNA metabarcoding is expected to have high applicability in biodiversity monitoring and ecological research, however it is dependent upon the existence of comprehensive DNA barcodes reference collections. In the Mediterranean region, such comprehensive database is still lacking. In this context, and within the frame of InBIO Barcoding Initiative, we are developing a DNA barcoding database.

So far we have collected and analysed more than 1500 specimens of over 60 families of Lepidoptera, with a total of over 1000 species barcoded. Genomic DNA was extracted and the mitochondrial COI gene fragment (658bp) was amplified in two overlapping fragments and sequenced using high-throughput techniques (Illumina). Most species could be easily distinguished using the targeted sequence, but some cases of low divergence between species were detected. Furthermore, DNA barcode facilitated the correct identification of enigmatic specimens, either of undocumented species in the region (both indigenous and exotic), or linking males and females of sexually dimorphic species. Cryptic diversity was found in several situations, especially when comparing specimens from Iberia and central Europe.

The development of InBIOas Lepidoptera reference collection is driven primarily by a research line on the study of diets and the building of food webs. The barcode of Portuguese Lepidoptera is directly assisting the application of Metabarcoding techniques towards a better understanding of food web complexity in Mediterranean ecosystems, and the identification of trophic relationships relevant for pest management. We expect InBIOas reference collection to become a fundamental tool for long-term and large-scale biodiversity monitoring in the Iberian Peninsula.

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