Global gap-analysis of amphipod barcode library

PeerJ. 2021 Nov 4:9:e12352. doi: 10.7717/peerj.12352. eCollection 2021.


In the age of global climate change and biodiversity loss there is an urgent need to provide effective and robust tools for diversity monitoring. One of the promising techniques for species identification is the use of DNA barcoding, that in Metazoa utilizes the so called 'gold-standard' gene of cytochrome c oxidase (COI). However, the success of this method relies on the existence of trustworthy barcode libraries of the species. The Barcode of Life Data System (BOLD) aims to provide barcodes for all existing organisms, and is complemented by the Barcode Index Number (BIN) system serving as a tool for potential species recognition. Here we provide an analysis of all public COI sequences available in BOLD of the diverse and ubiquitous crustacean order Amphipoda, to identify the barcode library gaps and provide recommendations for future barcoding studies. Our gap analysis of 25,702 records has shown that although 3,835 BINs (indicating putative species) were recognised by BOLD, only 10% of known amphipod species are represented by barcodes. We have identified almost equal contribution of both records (sequences) and BINs associated with freshwater and with marine realms. Three quarters of records have a complete species-level identification provided, while BINs have just 50%. Large disproportions between identification levels of BINs coming from freshwaters and the marine environment were observed, with three quarters of the former possessing a species name, and less than 40% for the latter. Moreover, the majority of BINs are represented by a very low number of sequences rendering them unreliable according to the quality control system. The geographical coverage is poor with vast areas of Africa, South America and the open ocean acting as "white gaps". Several, of the most species rich and highly abundant families of Amphipoda (e.g., Phoxocephalidae, Ampeliscidae, Caprellidae), have very poor representation in the BOLD barcode library. As a result of our study we recommend stronger effort in identification of already recognised BINs, prioritising the studies of families that are known to be important and abundant components of particular communities, and targeted sampling programs for taxa coming from geographical regions with the least knowledge.

Keywords: Crustacea; DNA barcoding; Freshwaters; Marine realm; Semi-terrestrial; Taxonomic identification.

Grants and funding

Anna Maria Jażdżewska was supported by the University of Lodz internal funds (B2011000000069). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.