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The African Centre for DNA Barcoding (ACDB) was established in 2005 as part of a global initiative to accurately and rapidly survey biodiversity using short DNA sequences. The mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase 1 gene (CO1) was rapidly adopted as the de facto barcode for animals. Following the evaluation of several candidate loci for plants, the Plant Working Group of the Consortium for the Barcoding of Life in 2009 recommended that the two plastid genes, rbcLa and matK, be adopted as core DNA barcodes for terrestrial plants. To date, numerous studies continue to test the discriminatory power of these markers across various plant lineages. Over the past decade, we at the African Centre for DNA Barcoding, have used these core DNA barcodes to generate a barcode library for southern Africa. To date, the ACDB has contributed more than 21 000 plant barcodes and over 3 000 CO1 barcodes for animals to the Barcode of Life Database (BOLD). Building upon this effort, we at the ACDB have addressed questions related to community assembly, biogeography, phylogenetic diversification, and invasion biology. Collectively, our work demonstrates the diverse applications of DNA barcoding in ecology, systematics, evolutionary biology, and conservation.
Sequences from the DNA barcode region of the mitochondrial COI gene are an effective tool for specimen identification and for the discovery of new species. The Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) (www.boldsystems.org) currently hosts 4.5 million records from animals which have been assigned to more than 490,000 different Barcode Index Numbers (BINs), which serve as a proxy for species. Because a fourth of these BINs derive from Lepidoptera, BOLD has a strong capability to both identify specimens in this order and to support studies of faunal overlap. DNA barcode sequences were obtained from 4503 moths from 329 sites across Pakistan, specimens that represented 981 BINs from 52 families. Among 379 species with a Linnaean name assignment, all were represented by a single BIN excepting five species that showed a BIN split. Less than half (44%) of the 981 BINs had counterparts in other countries; the remaining BINs were unique to Pakistan. Another 218 BINs of Lepidoptera from Pakistan were coupled with the 981 from this study before being compared with all 116,768 BINs for this order. As expected, faunal overlap was highest with India (21%), Sri Lanka (21%), United Arab Emirates (20%) and with other Asian nations (2.1%), but it was very low with other continents including Africa (0.6%), Europe (1.3%), Australia (0.6%), Oceania (1.0%), North America (0.1%), and South America (0.1%). This study indicates the way in which DNA barcoding facilitates measures of faunal overlap even when taxa have not been assigned to a Linnean species.
Demonstrating the value and importance of combining DNA barcodes and discriminant morphological characters for polystome taxonomy (Platyhelminthes, Monogenea).
Polystomes are monogenean parasites that infest mainly semi aquatic vertebrates, such as amphibians and chelonians. Owing to the lack of discriminative morphological characters and because polystomes are considered to be strictly host- and site-specific, host identity is often used as an additional character for parasite identification. Recent genetic studies, however, show that polystomes infecting freshwater turtles in outdoor turtle enclosures and natural environments, are not strictly host-specific. Therefore, we proposed a new procedure for turtle polystome taxonomy based on the combination of Cytochrome c Oxydase I sequences and two discriminant morphological characters, namely the number of genital spines and the testis shape. We tested the validity of this procedure with Polystomoides oris, which was collected from the pharyngeal cavity of the American painted turtle Chrysemys picta and two undescribed species, both collected from the pharyngeal cavity of the American slider Trachemys scripta and two other European turtles, namely the European pond turtle Emys orbicularis and the Mediterranean turtle Mauremys leprosa. A Principal Component Analysis based on both morphological characters allowed the separation of all specimens in three morphological groups, which matched well with the molecular data. As a result, we describe two new polystome species, i.e., Polystomoides soredensis n. sp. and Polystomoides scriptanus n. sp.
Fungus gnats (Sciaroidea) are a globally species rich group of lower Diptera. In Europe, Fennoscandian peninsula in particular holds a notable diversity, ca. 1000 species, of which 10 % are still unnamed. Fungus gnats are predominantly terrestrial insects, but some species dwell in wetland habitats.
Eight new fungus gnat species, belonging to the families Keroplatidae (Orfelia boreoalpina Salmela sp.n.) and Mycetophilidae (Sciophila holopaineni Salmela sp.n., S. curvata Salmela sp.n., Boletina sasakawai Salmela & Kolcsár sp.n., B. norokorpii Salmela & Kolcsár sp.n., Phronia sompio Salmela sp.n., P. reducta Salmela sp.n., P. prolongata Salmela sp.n.), are described. Four of the species are known from Fennoscandia only whilst two are supposed to have boreo-alpine disjunct ranges, i.e. having populations in Fennoscandia and the Central European Alps. One of the species probably has a boreal range (Finnish Lapland and Central Siberia). Type material of Boletina curta Sasakawa & Kimura from Japan was found to consist of two species, and a further species close to these taxa is described from Finland. Phronia elegantula Hackman is redescribed and reported for the first time from Norway. DNA barcodes are provided for the first time for five species.
DNA extraction and barcode identification of development stages of forensically important flies in the Czech Republic
Several methods of DNA extraction, coupled with 'DNA barcoding' species identification, were compared using specimens from early developmental stages of forensically important flies from the Calliphoridae and Sarcophagidae families. DNA was extracted at three immature stages - eggs, the first instar larvae, and empty pupal cases (puparia) - using four different extraction methods, namely, one simple 'homemade' extraction buffer protocol and three commercial kits. The extraction conditions, including the amount of proteinase K and incubation times, were optimized. The simple extraction buffer method was successful for half of the eggs and for the first instar larval samples. The DNA Lego Kit and DEP-25 DNA Extraction Kit were useful for DNA extractions from the first instar larvae samples, and the DNA Lego Kit was also successful regarding the extraction from eggs. The QIAamp DNA mini kit was the most effective; the extraction was successful with regard to all sample types - eggs, larvae, and pupari.
Evolution of group I introns in Porifera: new evidence for intron mobility and implications for DNA barcoding
Mitochondrial introns intermit coding regions of genes and feature characteristic secondary structures and splicing mechanisms. In metazoans, mitochondrial introns have only been detected in sponges, cnidarians, placozoans and one annelid species. Within demosponges, group I and group II introns are present in six families. Based on different insertion sites within the cox1 gene and secondary structures, four types of group I and two types of group II introns are known, which can harbor up to three encoding homing endonuclease genes (HEG) of the LAGLIDADG family (group I) and/or reverse transcriptase (group II). However, only little is known about sponge intron mobility, transmission, and origin due to the lack of a comprehensive dataset. We analyzed the largest dataset on sponge mitochondrial group I introns to date: 95 specimens, from 11 different sponge genera which provided novel insights into the evolution of group I introns.
For the first time group I introns were detected in four genera of the sponge family Scleritodermidae (Scleritoderma, Microscleroderma, Aciculites, Setidium). We demonstrated that group I introns in sponges aggregate in the most conserved regions of cox1. We showed that co-occurrence of two introns in cox1 is unique among metazoans, but not uncommon in sponges. However, this combination always associates an active intron with a degenerating one. Earlier hypotheses of HGT were confirmed and for the first time VGT and secondary losses of introns conclusively demonstrated.
This study validates the subclass Spirophorina (Tetractinellida) as an intron hotspot in sponges. Our analyses confirm that most sponge group I introns probably originated from fungi. DNA barcoding is discussed and the application of alternative primers suggested.