DNA METABARCODING AND THE BIODIVERSITY IN THE MEDITERRANEAN BASIN
Sónia Ferreira (CIBIO-InBIO) | July 10, 2019 | XVIII Iberian Congress of Entomology, Madrid, Spain
Mediterranean biodiversity is threatened by a range of factors that include land use changes, overexploitation of natural resources and global climate changes. Biodiversity assessments and biomonitoring studies are thus more urgent than ever, as they provide critical baselines for planning and monitoring programs. However, it is regrettable that we still know so little about invertebrates from the Mediterranean Basin, the vast majority of animal diversity.
For many taxa, key obstacles to the development of comprehensive biodiversity surveys are the shortage of specialised taxonomists, and the fact that “traditional” taxonomic work is highly time consuming. Until recently, these difficulties seemed largely unsurmountable, and thus research has mainly focused on a narrow set of taxa such as vertebrates or flowering plants. Luckily, the situation is changing, due to the advent of next-generation sequencing coupled with DNA metabarcoding approaches. These powerful tools are revolutionising biodiversity research, making it possible to survey virtually any taxa, with highly replicated sampling, at a range of spatial and temporal scales.
Here, we provide an overview of DNA metabarcoding applications. First, we illustrate the development of a comprehensive DNA barcode collection, which is a critical prerequisite for using DNA metabarcoding. In particular, we highlight the role of “traditional” taxonomists, which need to remain deeply involved. Second, we explore the type of samples that can be used and how they can be processed, stressing the importance of robust and highly-replicated sampling designs. Third, we describe the lab and bioinformatics pipelines, providing a simple overview on the challenges and potential pitfalls. Fourth, we show the type of data that emerges from DNA metabarcoding studies, and how they can be used. Finally, we end with an overview on the potential current limitations for mainstreaming DNA metabarcoding into Mediterranean biodiversity research.