Friday, March 2, 2018

Weekend reads

Another Friday, another set of papers to enjoy over the weekend. All related to DNA barcoding, one way or another. I should also stress that my weekly selection of articles is of course rather subjective. I pick what I consider interesting and sometimes my choices are not necessarily based on the fact that I share opinions or interpretations. On the contrary, you occasionally find papers here that I find frustrating and going in the wrong direction, e.g. the first one last week which is a good example of a paper where I find both question, results and general approach good and very interesting but when it comes to the choice of methods I am at a loss. This study could have been done with standard COI barcodes if only somebody had bothered to put some effort into primer development.

Aphids are viral vectors in potatoes, most importantly of Potato virus Y (PVY), and insecticides are frequently used to reduce viral spread during the crop season. Aphids collected from the potato belt of New Brunswick, Canada, in 2015 and 2016 were surveyed for known and novel mutations in the Na-channel (para) gene, coding for the target of synthetic pyrethroid insecticides. Specific genetic mutations known to confer resistance (kdr and skdr) were found in great abundance in Myzus persicae (Sulzer) (Hemiptera: Aphididae), which rose from 76% in 2015 to 96% in 2016. Aphids other than M. persicae showed lower frequency of resistance. In 2015, 3% of individuals contained the resistance mutation skdr, rising to 13% in 2016 (of 45 species). Several novel resistance mutations or mutations not before reported in aphids were identified in this gene target. One of these mutations, I936V, is known to confer pyrethroid resistance in another unrelated insect, and three others occur immediately adjacent and prompt similar chemical shifts in the primary protein structure, to previously characterized mutations associated with pyrethroid resistance. Most novel mutations were found in species other than M. persicae or others currently tracked individually by the provincial aphid monitoring program, which were determined by cytochrome C oxidase I (cox1) sequencing. Through our cox1 DNA barcoding survey, at least 45 species of aphids were discovered in NB potato fields in 2015 and 2016, many of which are known carriers of PVY.

Determining the host-parasitoid interactions and parasitism rates for invasive species entering novel environments is an important first step in assessing potential routes for biocontrol and integrated pest management. Conventional insect rearing techniques followed by taxonomic identification are widely used to obtain such data, but this can be time consuming and prone to biases. Here we present a Next Generation Sequencing approach for use in ecological studies which allows for individual level metadata tracking of large numbers of invertebrate samples through the use of hierarchically organised molecular identification tags. We demonstrate its utility using a sample data set examining both species identity and levels of parasitism in late larval stages of the Oak Processionary Moth (Thaumetopoea processionea - Linn. 1758), an invasive species recently established in the UK. Overall we find that there are two main species exploiting the late larval stages of Oak Processionary Moth in the UK with the main parasitoid (Carcelia iliaca - Ratzeburg, 1840) parasitising 45.7% of caterpillars, while a rare secondary parasitoid (Compsilura conccinata - Meigen, 1824) was also detected in 0.4% of caterpillars. Using this approach on all life stages of the Oak Processionary Moth may demonstrate additional parasitoid diversity. We discuss the wider potential of nested tagging DNA-metabarcoding for constructing large, highly-resolved species interaction networks. 

A cross-taxa study using environmental DNA/RNA metabarcoding to measure biological impacts of offshore oil and gas drilling and production operations.
Standardized ecosystem-based monitoring surveys are critical for providing information on marine ecosystem health. Environmental DNA/RNA (eDNA/eRNA) metabarcoding may facilitate such surveys by quickly and effectively characterizing multi-trophic levels. In this study, we assessed the suitability of eDNA/eRNA metabarcoding to evaluate changes in benthic assemblages of bacteria, Foraminifera and other eukaryotes along transects at three offshore oil and gas (O&G) drilling and production sites, and compared these to morphologically characterized macro-faunal assemblages. Bacterial communities were the most responsive to O&G activities, followed by Foraminifera, and macro-fauna (the latter assessed by morphology). The molecular approach enabled detection of hydrocarbon degrading taxa such as the bacteria Alcanivorax and Microbulbifer at petroleum impacted stations. Most identified indicator taxa, notably among macro-fauna, were highly specific to site conditions. Based on our results we suggest that eDNA/eRNA metabarcoding can be used as a stand-alone method for biodiversity assessment or as a complement to morphology-based monitoring approaches.

We analysed with multigene (18S and COI) metabarcoding the effects of the proliferation of invasive seaweeds on rocky littoral communities in two Spanish Marine Protected Areas. The invasive algae studied were Caulerpa cylindracea, Lophocladia lallemandii and Asparagopsis armata. They are canopy-forming, landscape-dominant seaweeds, and we were interested in their effects on the underlying communities of meiobenthos and macrobenthos, separated in two size fractions through sieving. A new semiquantitative treatment of metabarcoding data is introduced. The results for both markers showed that the presence of the invasive seaweed had a significant effect on the understory communities for Lophocladia lallemandii and Asparagopsis armata but not for Caulerpa cylindracea. Likewise, changes in MOTU richness and diversity with invasion status varied in magnitude and direction depending on the alga considered. Our results showed that metabarcoding allows monitoring of the less conspicuous, but not least important, effects of the presence of dominant invasive seaweeds.

The unintentional transport of invasive species through the global shipping network causes substantial losses to social and economic welfare. Addressing this global challenge requires identification of potentially harmful species, and confirmation of their movement along highly frequented shipping routes.
As we have previously shown, properly calibrated network models are able to describe passive movement of invasive species around the world. These models can be substantially improved when suitable in-situ biological data is becoming available, now possible by sequencing of environmental DNA (eDNA) from port waters.
Here we report a simple and scalable approach to generate metabarcoding data of 18S ribosomal and other eDNA collected in four major US ports. Between Long Beach, Houston, Miami, Baltimore and a multitude of Chinese ports, ships travel both frequently or infrequently while linking to different ecosystems of East Asia.
By controlling for ecoregions and ship traffic, we will shortly be able to estimate ship-borne invasive species spread between the two largest global economies, USA and China. With further port DNA sampling and network model refinements, we will also soon be able to provide global assessments of ship-borne invasive species spread to inform management and policy decision makers.

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