A plea for DNA barcoding of foraminifera

  • publication
  • 01-01-2014

Jan Pawlowski, Maria Holzmann. Marine Biodiversity 44 (2), 213-221; DOI: 10.2113/gsjfr.44.1.62

DNA barcoding is the molecular identification of species using short, standardized gene sequences. Numerous applications of DNA barcoding in taxonomy, ecology, bioconservation, and biosafety contributed to a spectacular development of this initiative administered by the Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL). Reference databases that assign DNA barcodes to particular morphospecies have been developed for almost all groups of animals, plants, and fungi, as well as some groups of protists (i.e., diatoms, ciliates, amoebae). However, such a database does not exist for foraminifera, despite large numbers of DNA sequences being available. To fill this gap, we initiated the Foram Barcoding (FB) project, whose objective is to create a curated molecular database for modern foraminifera. Each species included in our database is represented by one or several specimens, from which DNA was extracted and sequenced. Species entries include photos of processed specimens, taxonomic references, and DNA barcode sequences. A fragment of the 18S rRNA gene, commonly used in foraminiferal molecular studies, was chosen as the DNA barcode. We believe that the FB project will help resolve at least some misidentification problems that plague foraminiferal taxonomy. We also foresee its further applications in such domains of foraminiferal research as diversity assessment, ecology, biogeography, and biomonitoring. However, we are aware that the impact of the FB database depends mainly on its completeness and accuracy, and thus we appeal to the community of foraminiferologists to support this project by providing material for genetic studies and by contributing their taxonomic expertise in species identification and documentation.

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