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Unveiling the biodiversity of deep-sea nematodes through metabarcoding: are we ready to bypass the classical taxonomy?
Dell'Anno, A.; Carugati, L.; Corinaldesi, C.; Riccioni, G.; Danovaro, R. (2015). Unveiling the biodiversity of deep-sea nematodes through metabarcoding: are we ready to bypass the classical taxonomy? PLoS One 10(12): e0144928.
In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203; e-ISSN 1932-6203, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Dell'Anno, A.
  • Carugati, L.
  • Corinaldesi, C.
  • Riccioni, G.
  • Danovaro, R., more

    Nematodes inhabiting benthic deep-sea ecosystems account for >90% of the total metazoan abundances and they have been hypothesised to be hyper-diverse, but their biodiversity is still largely unknown. Metabarcoding could facilitate the census of biodiversity, especially for those tiny metazoans for which morphological identification is difficult. We compared, for the first time, different DNA extraction procedures based on the use of two commercial kits and a previously published laboratory protocol and tested their suitability for sequencing analyses of 18S rDNA of marine nematodes. We also investigated the reliability of Roche 454 sequencing analyses for assessing the biodiversity of deep-sea nematode assemblages previously morphologically identified. Finally, intra-genomic variation in 18S rRNA gene repeats was investigated by Illumina MiSeq in different deep-sea nematode morphospecies to assess the influence of polymorphisms on nematode biodiversity estimates. Our results indicate that the two commercial kits should be preferred for the molecular analysis of biodiversity of deep-sea nematodes since they consistently provide amplifiable DNA suitable for sequencing. We report that the morphological identification of deep-sea nematodes matches the results obtained by metabarcoding analysis only at the order-family level and that a large portion of Operational Clustered Taxonomic Units (OCTUs) was not assigned. We also show that independently from the cut-off criteria and bioinformatic pipelines used, the number of OCTUs largely exceeds the number of individuals and that 18S rRNA gene of different morpho-species of nematodes displayed intra-genomic polymorphisms. Our results indicate that metabarcoding is an important tool to explore the diversity of deep-sea nematodes, but still fails in identifying most of the species due to limited number of sequences deposited in the public databases, and in providing quantitative data on the species encountered. These aspects should be carefully taken into account before using metabarcoding in quantitative ecological research and monitoring programmes of marine biodiversity.

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