Friday, December 19, 2014

CBD Training for trainers

The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity will be launching a capacity-building “training for trainers” course in DNA Barcoding that will be made available to interested Parties to the Convention, thanks to financial support from the Government of Japan. This activity will be facilitated by the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario in Canada and will focus on building technological capacity to help Parties achieve Aichi Biodiversity Target 9, specifically, detection and monitoring of invasive alien species (IAS).

This course will include a distance education module (our Introduction to DNA Barcoding course), followed by hands-on training at the Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding for selected national experts. It will cover standard operational workflows used in barcoding of IAS and will provide participants with specialized skills that can be used to apply this technology and approaches in their home countries. Training modules are geared toward professionals involved in national regulatory and monitoring organizations overseeing quarantine and management of IAS. The course is open to additional self-funded experts from countries that are not eligible for SCBD financial support.

On-site training for up to five participants will overlap with the International Barcode of Life Conference, allowing them to participate in it.

The call for applications will be announced in January 2015 on the CBD website. For inquiries on eligibility, selection criteria, and application procedure, please contact the CBD Secretariat.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

New Issue of the Barcode Bulletin

We've just published our newest issue of the Barcode Bulletin. Once again packed with interesting news and findings. Everything DNA Barcoding - the perfect read for any seasonal holiday :-)

Just click on the cover photo and you will be redirected to the pdf file.

6th International Barcode Conference

I know many of you have been waiting for more details on the 6th International Barcode of Life Conference that will happen here in Guelph next August. The waiting has an end as the conference website just went life and it contains all the relevant information you might have been looking for. I think it looks just great. 

Just click on the image and you will be redirected.
I hope to be able to meet a lot of my readers at the conference.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

After more than 100 years

Without abundant material it were ridiculous to attempt a wide revision of these insects; and ... a mass of this material causes one's courage to sink at the sight of so uniform and apparently characterless a group.
Claude Morley, 1912

Back in 1912, three species of the parasitic wasp genus Ophion were described by two different entomologists, one of them was Claude Morley. This increased the number of known species in North America to eleven. Since then no new species was described although it has long been known that the actual diversity must be much higher. Everyone simply assumed that Ophion are just too difficult to tell apart and therefore didn't bother to face the challenge of sorting them out. 

However, with the advent of new taxonomic tools, it is no longer necessary to rely solely on the challenging morphology of the group. In a newly published study two Canadian colleagues used a combination of molecular and morphometric methods to define a new species group within Ophion, and to delimit and describe six new species within this group. The molecular work involved the analysis of three different genetic markers (ITS2, COI, and 28S D2-D3), while the morphometric analyses included both an analysis of wing venation and a more traditional approach of measuring various body parts.

All the different methods used provided remarkably congruent results, which gave the authors a lot of confidence in the new species they described. This also reemphasizes the point that all these new methods are essentially a new toolkit for studying species in morphogically-challenging groups. Not a very surprising new message for the hard-core DNA Barcoding researcher but good news nevertheless. 

... we have shown that by using an iterative analysis of morphology, molecular analysis and morphometrics, we can delimit and describe species within a genus that is so morphologically challenging that no new species have been described in North America for more than a hundred years. Furthermore, molecular and morphological recognition of this species group will now allow more targeted specimen collection and museum research, supporting a global revision of the species group in its entirety.

We are only at the beginning of understanding the real diversity of parasitic wasps and there are already researchers who think that we might need to change our perception of the beetles and butterflies being the most diverse insect groups. Actually, the order hymenoptera might be much larger than both of them. One indication of that is the recent flood of new species described as the result of studies utilizing new tools such as DNA Barcoding to delineate them. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Discoveries of the week

Salmo kottelati sp. n., is described from Alakır Stream (Mediterranean basin) in Turkey. It is distinguished from other Anatolian Salmo species by a combination of the following characters (none unique to the species): general body colour greenish to silvery in life; 7–9 parr marks along lateral line; four dark bands on flank absent in both sexes; black ocellated spots few, present only on upper part of flank in individuals smaller than 160 mm SL but in larger both males and females black spots numerous and located on back and middle and upper part of flank; red spots few to numerous, scattered on median, and half of lower and upper part of flank; head long (length 29–33% SL in males, 26–32 in females); mouth large (length of mouth gape 13–19% SL in males, 12–15 in females); maxilla long (length 10–13% SL in males, 8–12 in females); 105–113 lateral line scales; 24–29 scale rows between lateral line and dorsal-fin origin, 17–19 scale rows between lateral line and anal-fin origin; 13–15 scales between lateral line and adipose-fin insertion.

The genus Salmo is widely distributed in rivers and streams of basins of the Marmara, Black, Aegean and Mediterranean seas. The genus is represented by 12 species in Turkey alone. This description adds another one to this list. The new species is named for Maurice Kottelat, who contributed to the knowledge of the fish fauna of Europe and Asia.
no DNA Barcodes available

We discuss 45 Costa Rican species of Ethmia Hübner, 1819, including 23 previously described: E. delliella (Fernald), E. bittenella (Busck), E. festiva Busck, E. scythropa Walsingham, E. perpulchra Walsingham, E. terpnota Walsingham, E. elutella Busck, E. janzeni Powell, E. ungulatella Busck, E. exornata (Zeller), E. phylacis Walsingham, E. mnesicosma Meyrick, E. chemsaki Powell, E. baliostola Walsingham, E. duckworthi Powell, E. sandra Powell, E. nigritaenia Powell, E. catapeltica Meyrick, E. lichyi Powell, E. transversella Busck, E. similatella Busck, E. hammella Busck, E. linda Busck, and 22 new species: E. blaineorum, E. millerorum, E. dianemillerae, E. adrianforsythi, E. stephenrumseyi, E. berndkerni, E. dimauraorum, E. billalleni, E. ehakernae, E. helenmillerae, E. johnpringlei, E. laphamorum, E. petersterlingi, E. lesliesaulae, E. turnerorum, E. normgershenzi, E. nicholsonorum, E. hendersonorum, E. randyjonesi, E. randycurtisi, E. miriamschulmanae and E. tilneyorum. We illustrate all species and their male and female genitalia, along with distribution maps of Costa Rican localities. Immature stages are illustrated for 11 species, and food plants are listed when known. Gesneriaceae is added as a new food plant family record for Ethmia. CO1 nucleotide sequences (“DNA barcodes”) were obtained for 41 of the species.

Another glimpse into the diversity of the Área de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG) in northwestern Costa Rica. Of the 45 species of Ethmia found in Costa Rica, 22 are new and described in this paper. For this paper 41 of the Costa Rica species were actually barcoded and sequences can be found both on BOLD and GenBank. Only the taxonomy needs to be cleaned up in both databases. That would also allow the journal publisher to use the full potential of ZooKeys which includes the ability to link from paper to a large number of online databases.

Bivalve mollusk shells were collected in 2350 m depth in the Beaufort Sea, Arctic Ocean off northern Alaska. Initial identification suggested the specimens were a member of the bivalve family Thyasiridae, but no known eastern Pacific or Arctic living or fossil thyasirid resembled these deep-water specimens. Comparisons were made with the type of the genera Maorithyas Fleming, 1950, Spinaxinus Oliver & Holmes, 2006, Axinus Sowerby, 1821, and Parathyasira Iredale, 1930. We determined the Beaufort Sea species represents a new genus, herein described as Wallerconcha. These specimens also represent a new species, herein named Wallerconcha sarae. These new taxa are compared with known modern and fossil genera and species of thyasirds.

A new genus and species. The genus is named in honor of Thomas R. Wallerfor his contributions to the understanding of the evolution, biogeography and systematics of fossil and modern marine bivalves. The specie epithet  was chosen for Sara Powell, daughter of one the authors.
no DNA Barcodes available

A new tiger beetle species, Cicindelidia melissa Duran & Roman, sp. n., of the tribe Cicindelini, is described from high elevation montane forests of southeastern Arizona and Mexico. It appears to be most closely related to C. nebuligera (Bates) but is distinguished on the basis of multiple morphological characters and geographic range. The new species is also superficially similar to the widespread C. sedecimpunctata (Klug), but distinguished on the basis of multiple morphological characters and habitat. Habitus, male and female reproductive structures, and known distribution map are presented.

A new species of these fast running predators. The fastest Tiger beetle species can run at a speed of 9 km/h, which is the equivalent of a human running at 770 km/h. With about 2600 species a pretty big group that just got another new member named after the first author’s wife. 
no DNA Barcodes available

Bellevalia pseudolongipes (Asparagaceae) is described and illustrated as a new species from Siirt province in South Eastern Anatolia, Turkey. Diagnostic morphological characters, a full description and detailed illustrations are provided. It is morphologically similar to B. longipes but easily differs in both several morphological characters and chromosome number. The somatic chromosome number was determined as 2n = 12 in B. pseudolongipes.

A new species from Southeastern Turkey. It is closely related to Bellevalia longipes and sometimes can be found growing together with the former. No proper image for the species as the description is behind a paywall for me. Instead an image of its somatic chromosomes, one of the differences between the new species and its sister species.
no DNA Barcodes available

Rotala dhaneshiana, a new species of Lythraceae collected from a semi-marshy area of Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala, India is described and illustrated. It is closely allied to R. malampuzhensis usually in having trimerous flowers, but differs in having 4-angled, narrowly winged stems, long epicalyx lobes alternating with sepals, obovate-apiculate petals, and absence of nectar scales. It resembles R. juniperina, an African species in having trimerous flowers but differs in having sessile, decurrent-based leaves and sessile pistil.

The specific epithet is in honour of Mr. P. Dhanesh Kumar, Divisional Forest Officer, South Wayanad Forest Division, Kerala who received the ‘Sanctuary Wildlife Award - 2012’, instituted by the Sanctuary Asia Magazine for his valuable and tireless efforts in protecting the forest of the State. 
no DNA Barcodes available

Monday, December 15, 2014

Asian Carp detection

Indirect, non-invasive detection of rare aquatic macrofauna using aqueous environmental DNA (eDNA) is a relatively new approach to population and biodiversity monitoring. As such, the sensitivity of monitoring results to different methods of eDNA capture, extraction, and detection is being investigated in many ecosystems and species. One of the first and largest conservation programs with eDNA-based monitoring as a central instrument focuses on Asian bigheaded carp (Hypophthalmichthys spp.), an invasive fish spreading toward the Laurentian Great Lakes. 

Since 2010, detection of Asian Carp environmental DNA testing warns scientists, policymakers, and the public that these invaders are knocking on the Great Lakes' door. However, new research published by scientists of the University of Notre Dame shows that the tools currently used for Asian Carp eDNA monitoring often fail to detect the fish. By comparison, new eDNA methods described in this study capture and detect Asian Carp eDNA more effectively.

Using an experimental pond containing Asian Carp the researchers found that currently used methods detect speciess-specific eDNA less than 5% of the time. In contrast, their new methods detected Asian Carp eDNA 95% of the time. The new, more sensitive toolkit includes an updated DNA capture method and a new genetic test to both detect and quantify DNA. Due to the high mitochondrial DNA similarity between the two species Hypophthalmichthys nobilis and Hypophthalmichthys molitrix and their extensive hybridization in the some regions the researchers designed a genus-specific qPCR assay to exclusively measure the concentration of bigheaded carp eDNA in environmental samples. 

This quantification allowed them to demonstrate that the new method captured five times more Asian Carp eDNA than the current method. Since the new method is also 40 times cheaper, they recommend the new toolkit to replace old methods in ongoing efforts for early detection of Asian Carp in the Great Lakes region and beyond.

Our new, more sensitive assay provides a quantitative tool for eDNA-based monitoring of bigheaded carp, and the higher-yielding eDNA capture and extraction method we describe can be used for eDNA-based monitoring of any aquatic species.

Friday, December 12, 2014

500 posts

I almost missed this milestone. Today I wrote my 500th post for the DNA Barcoding blog. My posts have on average a length of 400 words which means I have written about 200 000 words about DNA Barcoding and Biodiversity Research. According to Amazon's Text Stats feature, the median length for all books is about 64,000 words - go figure.

A big thank you to all my readers for making this possible. Believe or not, this blog's audience is still growing continuously.