Two days delay and a lot to go through but I think I came up with a list of quite interesting reads:
Vector soup: high-throughput identification of Neotropical phlebotomine sand flies using metabarcoding
Phlebotomine sand flies are haematophagous dipterans of primary medical importance. They represent the only proven vectors of leishmaniasis worldwide and are involved in the transmission of various other pathogens. Studying the ecology of sand flies is crucial to understand the epidemiology of leishmaniasis and further control this disease. A major limitation in this regard is that traditional morphological-based methods for sand fly species identifications are time-consuming and require taxonomic expertise. DNA metabarcoding holds great promise in overcoming this issue by allowing the identification of multiple species from a single bulk sample. Here, we assessed the reliability of a short insect metabarcode located in the mitochondrial 16S rRNA for the identification of Neotropical sand flies, and constructed a reference database for 40 species found in French Guiana. Then, we conducted a metabarcoding experiment on sand flies mixtures of known content and showed that the method allows an accurate identification of specimens in pools. Finally, we applied metabarcoding to field samples caught in a 1-ha forest plot in French Guiana. Besides providing reliable molecular data for species-level assignations of phlebotomine sand flies, our study proves the efficiency of metabarcoding based on the mitochondrial 16S rRNA for studying sand fly diversity from bulk samples. The application of this high-throughput identification procedure to field samples can provide great opportunities for vector monitoring and eco-epidemiological studies.
Bridging the gap between morphological species and molecular barcodes - Exemplified by loricate choanoflagellates
Translating the vast amounts of molecular barcodes from global surveys of microbial eukaryotes into ecological insight depends critically on a well-curated reference database with adequate taxonomic coverage. In this respect, the choanoflagellates resemble other eukaryotic lineages: reasonable coverage at higher taxonomic levels, but missing diversity at the species level. The acanthoecid (loricate) choanoflagellates are well-characterized morphologically, with over 115 species described, but less than 10% with any sequence data. Because lorica shape is species-specific, the acanthoecids represent an opportunity to link morphological with molecular data within a lineage of eukaryotes. To match morphospecies to sequences, we sampled the Kattegat and the Isefjord in Denmark in September 2014 and February 2015. We identified 45 morphospecies and sequenced ribosomal DNA of nine previously unsequenced species, roughly doubling the number of acanthoecid species with sequence data, including the first data representing five genera: Bicosta, Calliacantha, Cosmoeca, Crinolina and Pleurasiga. Our phylogenetic analysis is mainly congruent with morphology-based systematics. Five of the newly sequenced species match a previously unidentified barcode from Tara Oceans, providing access to the global distribution of species isolated from Danish waters. One species, Calliacantha natans, is the second most globally abundant choanoflagellate present in Tara Oceans. Our project translating new ribosomal DNA sequences to distributions of described species on a global scale supports the approach linking morphology to molecular barcodes for microbial eukaryote ecology.
Root endophytic fungal communities associated with pitch pine, switchgrass, and rosette grass in the pine barrens ecosystem
Almost all plants in nature harbour fungi in their roots but the knowledge on distribution and the underlying principles of assemblage is still poorly developed for the root-associated fungi. In this study we analysed the root endophytic fungal communities associated with switchgrass, rosette grass, and pitch pine in the acidic, oligotrophic pine barrens ecosystem. A total of 434 fungal isolates were obtained from 600 root segments of 60 plant samples. DNA barcoding and morphological analyses identified 92 fungal species, which belong to 39 genera in six classes. Compared to other ecosystems, the pine barrens has a higher proportion of Leotiomycetes. The fungal community associated with pitch pine was significantly different from those associated with the grasses, while less difference was found between those associated with the two grasses. Our results suggest that edaphic factors and host specificity play a role in shaping root endophytic fungal community. This study also corroborates our previous finding that plant roots in the pine barrens are a rich reservoir of novel fungi.
Molecular barcoding confirms the presence of exotic Asian seaweeds (Pachymeniopsis gargiuli and Grateloupia turuturu) in the Cantabrian Sea, Bay of Biscay
The introduction of exotic species can have serious consequences for marine ecosystems. On the shores of the Cantabrian Sea (North of Spain) there are no routine examinations of seaweeds that combine molecular and morphological methods for early detection of exotic species making it difficult to assess in the early stages their establishment and expansion processes as a result of anthropogenic activities (e.g., shipping and/or aquaculture).
In this work we used both morphological identification and molecular barcoding (COI-5P and rbcL genes) of red algae collected in Asturias, Bay of Biscay (Gijón and Candás harbours) and from the University of Oviedo's herbarium samples.
The results confirmed the presence of exotic Asian seaweeds Pachymeniopsis gargiuli and Grateloupia turuturu Yamada on Cantabrian Sea shores. Several individuals of these species were fertile and developing cystocarps when collected, underlining the risk of possible expansion or continued establishment. This study constitutes the first report of the Asian P. gargiuli in this area of the Bay of Biscay.
Here the presence of the exotic species of the Halymeniales P. gargiuli is confirmed. We hypothesize that this species may have been established some time ago as a cryptic introduction with G. turuturu in Galician shores. The detection of these species on the shores of the Cantabrian Sea is relevant since introductions of Pachymeniopsis species could have been overlooked on other European coasts, probably mixed with G. turuturu and P. lanceolata. Our results confirm one new alien seaweed species that has been detected using molecular methods (COI-5P region and rbcL genes barcoding) on North Atlantic shores: the Asian native P. gargiuli. This demonstrates that routine screening for early detection of exotic algae in the Cantabrian Sea can be used for risk assessment. Genetic barcoding should be done using both rbcL gene and COI-5P regions since, although COI-databases are still poorer in sequences and this inhibits successful outcomes in Grateloupia-related species identifications, it is nonetheless a useful marker for species-level identifications in seaweeds.
Aquatic environmental DNA detects seasonal fish abundance and habitat preference in an urban estuary
The difficulty of censusing marine animal populations hampers effective ocean management. Analyzing water for DNA traces shed by organisms may aid assessment. Here we tested aquatic environmental DNA (eDNA) as an indicator of fish presence in the lower Hudson River estuary. A checklist of local marine fish and their relative abundance was prepared by compiling 12 traditional surveys conducted between 1988–2015. To improve eDNA identification success, 31 specimens representing 18 marine fish species were sequenced for two mitochondrial gene regions, boosting coverage of the 12S eDNA target sequence to 80% of local taxa. We collected 76 one-liter shoreline surface water samples at two contrasting estuary locations over six months beginning in January 2016. eDNA was amplified with vertebrate-specific 12S primers. Bioinformatic analysis of amplified DNA, using a reference library of GenBank and our newly generated 12S sequences, detected most (81%) locally abundant or common species and relatively few (23%) uncommon taxa, and corresponded to seasonal presence and habitat preference as determined by traditional surveys. Approximately 2% of fish reads were commonly consumed species that are rare or absent in local waters, consistent with wastewater input. Freshwater species were rarely detected despite Hudson River inflow. These results support further exploration and suggest eDNA will facilitate fine-scale geographic and temporal mapping of marine fish populations at relatively low cost.