Effort launched to develop West Coast DNA barcoding library for marine invertebrates

Posted November 2, 2018

The Smithsonian Institute has partnered with SCCWRP, the Southern California Bight 2018 Regional Monitoring Program and the Western Association of Marine Labs to begin developing a DNA barcoding library that will pave the way for West Coast marine invertebrates living in and on seafloor sediment to be identified via DNA sequencing.

Researchers already have started identifying benthic invertebrate samples that were collected during Bight ’18 sediment sampling last summer. The benthic invertebrates will be sent to the Smithsonian for DNA sequencing and analysis.

The composition of benthic invertebrate communities offers key insights into overall ecosystem condition, but identifying these species through traditional taxonomy is labor-intensive and costly. DNA barcoding technology offers a potentially cheaper, equally effective alternative for taxonomic identification.

These data will serve as a DNA reference library for the West Coast that environmental managers can use to identify benthic invertebrates through barcoding methods.

SCCWRP intends to use the benthic invertebrate library to get a better understanding of the organisms that are important for scoring sediment quality via a tool known as the Benthic Response Index. Researchers also will seek to improve understanding of two groups of invertebrate organisms – pelagic invertebrates (pteropods) and sediment meiofauna – that traditionally have been difficult to identify.

More news related to: Bioassessment, DNA Barcoding, Indices of Biotic Integrity