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Squished bug genomics: Insect goo aids biodiversity research
Date:3/26/2013

March 27th, 2013, Hong Kong, China GigaScience (a BGI and BioMed Central open access journal) announces the publication of an article that presents a new method for assessing and understanding biodiversity that uses a DNA-soup made from crushed-up insects and next generation sequencing technology. This bulk-collected insect goo has the potential to rapidly and cost-effectively reveal the diversity and make-up of both known and unknown species collected in a particular time and place. The new method devised by Xin Zhou and colleagues at BGI Shenzhen, China, is a more accurate and quantitative version of a new biodiversity analysis technique called metabarcoding. Further, the analyses in the article revealed how poorly characterized and diverse insect communities can be, even from two small sites within the researchers' own backyard literally.

The work here combines DNA barcoding, which utilizes a standard gene fragment for species identification, with next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies; previous metabarcoding methods, however, have required a DNA-amplification step that uses the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This step can introduce problematic errors into the analysis. Xin Zhou and colleagues have found a way to carry out this method without this step, giving the method the potential to be far more accurate. In addition to being able to assess species diversity, it also allows the researcher to determine the total quantity of mitochondrial DNA present for each species. This makes it possible to reveal the relative abundance and biomass of each species, which is important information for ecological studies.

Allowing more consistent and rapid sampling, this new technique may simplify the study of changes in biodiversity over space and time. Dr. Neil Davies, Director of the University of California Berkeley's Gump South Pacific Research, who studies model ecosystems stated: "PCR-free metabarcoding could transform the way we s
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Contact: Scott Edmunds
scott@gigasciencejournal.com
852-361-03531
GigaScience
Source:Eurekalert

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