Identifying aquatic invertebrates using next generation sequencing

Using large-scale DNA barcode sequencing to effectively identify species of samples archived for up to 12 years

GBIF-mediated data resources used : 222 families
Xanthagrion erythroneurum
Xanthagrion erythroneurum by Ry Beaver via iNaturalist. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

In studies of aquatic invertebrate biodiversity, restraints on time and expenses often mean that communities are only identified to family levels. Archived samples stored in ethanol may, however, be identified more specifically at a later stage.

This study uses next-generation sequencing (NGS) of DNA barcodes to systematically identify species in archived macroinvertebrate samples from two sites in Australia, some of which had been stored up to 12 years at room temperature. Despite anticipated DNA degradation, the researchers were able to amplify partical DNA barcodes from most samples, and using these, identify the species often by more than one amplified sequence.

Not all families had identifiable species, however, when the researchers compared the number of identified species per family with estimated equivalents in GBIF, they revealed potential gaps in the barcode library that could explain the lack of identified species.

Carew ME, Metzeling L, St Clair R and Hoffmann AA (2017) Detecting invertebrate species in archived collections using next-generation sequencing. Molecular Ecology Resources. Wiley-Blackwell. Available at:

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  • Australia
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  • Australia
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  • Ecology
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