Toward accurate species-level metabarcoding of arthropod communities from the tropical forest canopy.
ABSTRACT: Metabarcoding of arthropod communities can be used for assessing species diversity in tropical forests but the methodology requires validation for accurate and repeatable species occurrences in complex mixtures. This study investigates how the composition of ecological samples affects the accuracy of species recovery.Starting with field-collected bulk samples from the tropical canopy, the recovery of specimens was tested for subsets of different body sizes and major taxa, by assembling these subsets into increasingly complex composite pools. After metabarcoding, we track whether richness, diversity, and most importantly composition of any size class or taxonomic subset are affected by the presence of other subsets in the mixture.Operational taxonomic units (OTUs) greatly exceeded the number of morphospecies in most taxa, even under very stringent sequencing read filtering. There was no significant effect on the recovered OTU richness of small and medium-sized arthropods when metabarcoded alongside larger arthropods, despite substantial biomass differences in the mixture. The recovery of taxonomic subsets was not generally influenced by the presence of other taxa, although with some exceptions likely due to primer mismatches. Considerable compositional variation within size and taxon-based subcommunities was evident resulting in high beta-diversity among samples from within a single tree canopy, but this beta-diversity was not affected by experimental manipulation.We conclude that OTU recovery in complex arthropod communities, with sufficient sequencing depth and within reasonable size ranges, is not skewed by variable biomass of the constituent species. This could remove the need for time-intensive manual sorting prior to metabarcoding. However, there remains a chance of taxonomic bias, which may be primer-dependent. There will never be a panacea primer; instead, metabarcoding studies should carefully consider whether the aim is broadscale turnover, in which case these biases may not be important, or species lists, in which case separate PCRs and sequencing might be necessary. OTU number inflation remains an issue in metabarcoding and requires bioinformatic development, particularly in read filtering and OTU clustering, and/or greater use of species-identifying sequences generated outside of bulk sequencing.
Project description:DNA metabarcoding is used to generate species composition data for entire communities. However, sequencing errors in high-throughput sequencing instruments are fairly common, usually requiring reads to be clustered into operational taxonomic units (OTUs), losing information on intraspecific diversity in the process. While Cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) haplotype information is limited in resolving intraspecific diversity it is nevertheless often useful e.g. in a phylogeographic context, helping to formulate hypotheses on taxon distribution and dispersal.This study combines sequence denoising strategies, normally applied in microbial research, with additional abundance-based filtering to extract haplotype information from freshwater macroinvertebrate metabarcoding datasets. This novel approach was added to the R package "JAMP" and can be applied to COI amplicon datasets. We tested our haplotyping method by sequencing (i) a single-species mock community composed of 31 individuals with 15 different haplotypes spanning three orders of magnitude in biomass and (ii) 18 monitoring samples each amplified with four different primer sets and two PCR replicates.We detected all 15 haplotypes of the single specimens in the mock community with relaxed filtering and denoising settings. However, up to 480 additional unexpected haplotypes remained in both replicates. Rigorous filtering removes most unexpected haplotypes, but also can discard expected haplotypes mainly from the small specimens. In the monitoring samples, the different primer sets detected 177-200 OTUs, each containing an average of 2.40-3.30 haplotypes per OTU. The derived intraspecific diversity data showed population structures that were consistent between replicates and similar between primer pairs but resolution depended on the primer length. A closer look at abundant taxa in the dataset revealed various population genetic patterns, e.g. the stonefly Taeniopteryx nebulosa and the caddisfly Hydropsyche pellucidula showed a distinct north-south cline with respect to haplotype distribution, while the beetle Oulimnius tuberculatus and the isopod Asellus aquaticus displayed no clear population pattern but differed in genetic diversity.We developed a strategy to infer intraspecific genetic diversity from bulk invertebrate metabarcoding data. It needs to be stressed that at this point this metabarcoding-informed haplotyping is not capable of capturing the full diversity present in such samples, due to variation in specimen size, primer bias and loss of sequence variants with low abundance. Nevertheless, for a high number of species intraspecific diversity was recovered, identifying potentially isolated populations and taxa for further more detailed phylogeographic investigation. While we are currently lacking large-scale metabarcoding datasets to fully take advantage of our new approach, metabarcoding-informed haplotyping holds great promise for biomonitoring efforts that not only seek information about species diversity but also underlying genetic diversity.
Project description:Metabarcoding can rapidly determine the species composition of bulk samples and thus aids biodiversity and ecosystem assessment. However, it is essential to use primer sets that minimize amplification bias among taxa to maximize species recovery. Despite this fact, the performance of primer sets employed for metabarcoding terrestrial arthropods has not been sufficiently evaluated. This study tests the performance of 36 primer sets on a mock community containing 374 insect species. Amplification success was assessed with gradient PCRs and the 21 most promising primer sets selected for metabarcoding. These 21 primer sets were also tested by metabarcoding a Malaise trap sample. We identified eight primer sets, mainly those including inosine and/or high degeneracy, that recovered more than 95% of the species in the mock community. Results from the Malaise trap sample were congruent with the mock community, but primer sets generating short amplicons produced potential false positives. Taxon recovery from both mock community and Malaise trap sample metabarcoding were used to select four primer sets for additional evaluation at different annealing temperatures (40-60 °C) using the mock community. The effect of temperature varied by primer pair but overall it only had a minor effect on taxon recovery. This study reveals the weak performance of some primer sets employed in past studies. It also demonstrates that certain primer sets can recover most taxa in a diverse species assemblage. Thus, based our experimental set up, there is no need to employ several primer sets targeting the same gene region. We identify several suitable primer sets for arthropod metabarcoding, and specifically recommend BF3 + BR2, as it is not affected by primer slippage and provides maximal taxonomic resolution. The fwhF2 + fwhR2n primer set amplifies a shorter fragment and is therefore ideal when targeting degraded DNA (e.g., from gut contents).
Project description:DNA metabarcoding is a promising approach for rapidly surveying biodiversity and is likely to become an important tool for measuring ecosystem responses to environmental change. Metabarcoding markers need sufficient taxonomic coverage to detect groups of interest, sufficient sequence divergence to resolve species, and will ideally indicate relative abundance of taxa present. We characterized zooplankton assemblages with three different metabarcoding markers (nuclear 18S rDNA, mitochondrial COI, and mitochondrial 16S rDNA) to compare their performance in terms of taxonomic coverage, taxonomic resolution, and correspondence between morphology- and DNA-based identification. COI amplicons sequenced on separate runs showed that operational taxonomic units representing >0.1% of reads per sample were highly reproducible, although slightly more taxa were detected using a lower annealing temperature. Mitochondrial COI and nuclear 18S showed similar taxonomic coverage across zooplankton phyla. However, mitochondrial COI resolved up to threefold more taxa to species compared to 18S. All markers revealed similar patterns of beta-diversity, although different taxa were identified as the greatest contributors to these patterns for 18S. For calanoid copepod families, all markers displayed a positive relationship between biomass and sequence reads, although the relationship was typically strongest for 18S. The use of COI for metabarcoding has been questioned due to lack of conserved primer-binding sites. However, our results show the taxonomic coverage and resolution provided by degenerate COI primers, combined with a comparatively well-developed reference sequence database, make them valuable metabarcoding markers for biodiversity assessment.
Project description:Quantifying the spatio-temporal distribution of arthropods in tropical rainforests represents a first step towards scrutinizing the global distribution of biodiversity on Earth. To date most studies have focused on narrow taxonomic groups or lack a design that allows partitioning of the components of diversity. Here, we consider an exceptionally large dataset (113,952 individuals representing 5,858 species), obtained from the San Lorenzo forest in Panama, where the phylogenetic breadth of arthropod taxa was surveyed using 14 protocols targeting the soil, litter, understory, lower and upper canopy habitats, replicated across seasons in 2003 and 2004. This dataset is used to explore the relative influence of horizontal, vertical and seasonal drivers of arthropod distribution in this forest. We considered arthropod abundance, observed and estimated species richness, additive decomposition of species richness, multiplicative partitioning of species diversity, variation in species composition, species turnover and guild structure as components of diversity. At the scale of our study (2 km of distance, 40 m in height and 400 days), the effects related to the vertical and seasonal dimensions were most important. Most adult arthropods were collected from the soil/litter or the upper canopy and species richness was highest in the canopy. We compared the distribution of arthropods and trees within our study system. Effects related to the seasonal dimension were stronger for arthropods than for trees. We conclude that: (1) models of beta diversity developed for tropical trees are unlikely to be applicable to tropical arthropods; (2) it is imperative that estimates of global biodiversity derived from mass collecting of arthropods in tropical rainforests embrace the strong vertical and seasonal partitioning observed here; and (3) given the high species turnover observed between seasons, global climate change may have severe consequences for rainforest arthropods.
Project description:During the most recent decade, environmental DNA metabarcoding approaches have been both developed and improved to minimize the biological and technical biases in these protocols. However, challenges remain, notably those relating to primer design. In the current study, we comprehensively assessed the performance of ten COI and two 16S primer pairs for eDNA metabarcoding, including novel and previously published primers. We used a combined approach of in silico, in vivo-mock community (33 arthropod taxa from 16 orders), and guano-based analyses to identify primer sets that would maximize arthropod detection and taxonomic identification, successfully identify the predator (bat) species, and minimize the time and financial costs of the experiment. We focused on two insectivorous bat species that live together in mixed colonies: the greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) and Geoffroy's bat (Myotis emarginatus). We found that primer degeneracy is the main factor that influences arthropod detection in silico and mock community analyses, while amplicon length is critical for the detection of arthropods from degraded DNA samples. Our guano-based results highlight the importance of detecting and identifying both predator and prey, as guano samples can be contaminated by other insectivorous species. Moreover, we demonstrate that amplifying bat DNA does not reduce the primers' capacity to detect arthropods. We therefore recommend the simultaneous identification of predator and prey. Finally, our results suggest that up to one-third of prey occurrences may be unreliable and are probably not of primary interest in diet studies, which may decrease the relevance of combining several primer sets instead of using a single efficient one. In conclusion, this study provides a pragmatic framework for eDNA primer selection with respect to scientific and methodological constraints.
Project description:DNA metabarcoding is a sophisticated molecular tool that can enhance biological surveys of freshwater plankton communities by providing broader taxonomic coverage and, for certain groups, higher taxonomic resolution compared to morphological methods. We conducted 18S rRNA gene metabarcoding analyses on 214 water samples collected over a four-month period from multiple sites within a freshwater reservoir. We detected 1,314 unique operational taxonomic units that included various metazoans, protists, chlorophytes, and fungi. Alpha diversity differed among sites, suggesting local habitat variation linked to differing species responses. Strong temporal variation was detected at both daily and monthly scales. Diversity and relative abundance patterns for several protist groups (including dinoflagellates, ciliates, and cryptophytes) differed from arthropods (e.g., cladocerans and copepods), a traditional focus of plankton surveys. This suggests that the protists respond to different environmental dimensions and may therefore provide additional information regarding ecosystem status. Comparison of the sequence-based population survey data to conventional-based data revealed similar trends for taxa that were ranked among the most abundant in both approaches, although some groups were missing in each data set. These results highlight the potential benefit of supplementing conventional biological survey approaches with metabarcoding to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of freshwater plankton community structure and dynamics.
Project description:Current metabarcoding studies aiming to characterize microbial communities generally rely on the amplification and sequencing of relatively short DNA regions. For fungi, the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region in the ribosomal RNA (rRNA) operon has been accepted as the formal fungal barcode. Despite an increasing number of fungal metabarcoding studies, the amplification efficiency of primers is generally not tested prior to their application in metabarcoding studies. Some of the challenges that metabarcoding primers should overcome efficiently are the amplification of target DNA strands in samples rich in non-target DNA and environmental pollutants, such as humic acids, that may have been co-extracted with DNA. In the current study, three selected primer pairs were tested for their suitability as fungal metabarcoding primers. The selected primer pairs include two primer pairs that have been frequently used in fungal metabarcoding studies (ITS1F/ITS2 and ITS3/ITS4) and a primer pair (ITS86F/ITS4) that has been shown to efficiently amplify the ITS2 region of a broad range of fungal taxa in environmental soil samples. The selected primer pairs were evaluated in a 454 amplicon pyrosequencing experiment, real-time PCR (qPCR) experiments and in silico analyses. Results indicate that experimental evaluation of primers provides valuable information that could aid in the selection of suitable primers for fungal metabarcoding studies. Furthermore, we show that the ITS86F/ITS4 primer pair outperforms other primer pairs tested in terms of in silico primer efficiency, PCR efficiency, coverage, number of reads and number of species-level operational taxonomic units (OTUs) obtained. These traits push the ITS86F/ITS4 primer pair forward as highly suitable for studying fungal diversity and community structures using DNA metabarcoding.
Project description:Cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) is a powerful marker for DNA barcoding of animals, with good taxonomic resolution and a large reference database. However, when used for DNA metabarcoding, estimation of taxa abundances and species detection are limited due to primer bias caused by highly variable primer binding sites across the COI gene. Therefore, we explored the ability of the 16S ribosomal DNA gene as an alternative metabarcoding marker for species level assessments. Ten bulk samples, each containing equal amounts of tissue from 52 freshwater invertebrate taxa, were sequenced with the Illumina NextSeq 500 system. The 16S primers amplified three more insect species than the Folmer COI primers and amplified more equally, probably due to decreased primer bias. Estimation of biomass might be less biased with 16S than with COI, although variation in read abundances of two orders of magnitudes is still observed. According to these results, the marker choice depends on the scientific question. If the goal is to obtain a taxonomic identification at the species level, then COI is more appropriate due to established reference databases and known taxonomic resolution of this marker, knowing that a greater proportion of insects will be missed using COI Folmer primers. If the goal is to obtain a more comprehensive survey the 16S marker, which requires building a local reference database, or optimised degenerated COI primers could be more appropriate.
Project description:Although there are many methods for reconstructing diets of the past, detailed taxon identification is still challenging, and most plants hardly remain at a site. In this study, we applied DNA metabarcoding to dental calculus of premodern Japan for the taxonomic identification of food items. DNA was extracted from 13 human dental calculi from the Unko-in site (18th-19th century) of the Edo period, Japan. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequencing were performed using a primer set specific to the genus Oryza because rice (Oryza sativa) was a staple food and this was the only member of this genus present in Japan at that time. DNA metabarcoding targeting plants, animals (meat and fish), and fungi were also carried out to investigate dietary diversity. We detected amplified products of the genus Oryza from more than half of the samples using PCR and Sanger sequencing. DNA metabarcoding enabled us to identify taxa of plants and fungi, although taxa of animals were not detected, except human. Most of the plant taxonomic groups (family/genus level) are present in Japan and include candidate species consumed as food at that time, as confirmed by historical literature. The other groups featured in the lifestyle of Edo people, such as for medicinal purposes and tobacco. The results indicate that plant DNA analysis from calculus provides information about food diversity and lifestyle habits from the past and can complement other analytical methods such as microparticle analysis and stable isotope analysis.
Project description:BACKGROUND:In spite of their ecological importance as primary producers and microbioeroders of marine calcium carbonate (CaCO3) substrata, endolithic phototrophs spanning both prokaryotic (the cyanobacteria) and eukaryotic algae lack established molecular resources for their facilitated survey with high throughput sequencing. Here, the development of a metabarcoding framework for the elongation factor EF-Ttu (tufA) was tested on four Illumina-sequenced marine CaCO3 microfloras for the characterization of their endolithic phototrophs, especially the abundant bioeroding Ostreobium spp. (Ulvophyceae). The framework consists of novel tufA degenerate primers and a comprehensive database enabling Operational Taxonomic Unit (OTU) identification at multiple taxonomic ranks with percent identity thresholds determined herein. RESULTS:The newly established tufA database comprises 4057 non-redundant sequences (from 1339 eukaryotic and prokaryotic phototrophs, and 2718 prokaryotic heterotrophs) including 27 classes in 10 phyla of phototrophic diversity summarized from data mining on GenBank(®), our barcoding of >150 clones produced from coral reef microfloras, and >300 eukaryotic phototrophs (>230 Ulvophyceae including >100 'Ostreobium' spp., and >70 Florideophyceae, Phaeophyceae and miscellaneous taxa). Illumina metabarcoding with the newly designed primers resulted in 802 robust OTUs including 618 phototrophs and 184 heterotrophs (77 and 23% of OTUs, respectively). Phototrophic OTUs belonged to 14 classes of phototrophs found in seven phyla, and represented ~98% of all reads. The phylogenetic profiles of coral reef microfloras showed few OTUs in large abundance (proportion of reads) for the Chlorophyta (Ulvophyceae, i.e. Ostreobium and Phaeophila), the Rhodophyta (Florideophyceae) and Haptophyta (Coccolithophyceae), and a large diversity (richness) of OTUs in lower abundance for the Cyanophyta (Cyanophyceae) and the Ochrophyta (the diatoms, 'Bacillariophyta'). The bioerosive 'Ostreobium' spp. represented four families in a large clade of subordinal divergence, i.e. the Ostreobidineae, and a fifth, phylogenetically remote family in the suborder Halimedineae (provisionally assigned as the 'Pseudostreobiaceae'). Together they harbor 85-95 delimited cryptic species of endolithic microsiphons. CONCLUSIONS:The novel degenerate primers allowed for amplification of endolithic phototrophs across a wide phylogenetic breadth as well as their recovery in very large proportions of reads (overall 98%) and diversity (overall 77% of OTUs). The established companion tufA database and determined identity thresholds allow for OTU identification at multiple taxonomic ranks to facilitate the monitoring of phototrophic assemblages via metabarcoding, especially endolithic communities rich in bioeroding Ulvophyceae, such as those harboring 'Ostreobium' spp., Phaeophila spp. and associated algal diversity.