Canadian Forest Service Publications

Watered-down biodiversity? A comparison of metabarcoding results from DNA extracted from matched water and bulk tissue biomonitoring samples. 2019. Hajibabae. M.; Porter, T.M.; Robinson, C.V.; Baird, D.J.; Shokralla, S.; Wright, M.T.G. PLoS ONE 14(12): e0225409.

Year: 2019

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 40007

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225409

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Biomonitoring programs have evolved beyond the sole use of morphological identification to determine the composition of invertebrate species assemblages in an array of ecosystems. The application of DNA metabarcoding in freshwater systems for assessing benthic invertebrate communities is now being employed to generate biological information for environmental monitoring and assessment. A possible shift from the extraction of DNA from netcollected bulk benthic samples to its extraction directly from water samples for metabarcoding has generated considerable interest based on the assumption that taxon detectability is comparable when using either method. To test this, we studied paired water and benthos samples from a taxon-rich wetland complex, to investigate differences in the detection of arthropod taxa from each sample type. We demonstrate that metabarcoding of DNA extracted directly from water samples is a poor surrogate for DNA extracted from bulk benthic samples, focusing on key bioindicator groups. Our results continue to support the use of bulk benthic samples as a basis for metabarcoding-based biomonitoring, with nearly three times greater total richness in benthic samples compared to water samples. We also demonstrated that few arthropod taxa are shared between collection methods, with a notable lack of key bioindicator EPTO taxa in the water samples. Although species coverage in water could likely be improved through increased sample replication and/or increased sequencing depth, benthic samples remain the most representative, cost-effective method of generating aquatic compositional information via metabarcoding.