staff

Laure Apotheloz-Perret-Gentil

PhD Student in Molecular Systematics & Environmental Genomics

  • T: +41 22 379 30 84
  • office 4061B (Sciences III)
  • Taxonomy-free molecular diatom index for high-throughput eDNA biomonitoring. Mol Ecol Resour 2017 Mar;():. 10.1111/1755-0998.12668.

    abstract

    Current biodiversity assessment and biomonitoring are largely based on the morphological identification of selected bioindicator taxa. Recently, several attempts have been made to use eDNA metabarcoding as an alternative tool. However, until now, most applied metabarcoding studies have been based on the taxonomic assignment of sequences that provides reference to morphospecies ecology. Usually, only a small portion of metabarcoding data can be used due to a limited reference database and a lack of phylogenetic resolution. Here, we investigate the possibility to overcome these limitations by using a taxonomy-free approach that allows the computing of a molecular index directly from eDNA data without any reference to morphotaxonomy. As a case study, we use the benthic diatoms index, commonly used for monitoring the biological quality of rivers and streams. We analysed 87 epilithic samples from Swiss rivers, the ecological status of which was established based on the microscopic identification of diatom species. We compared the diatom index derived from eDNA data obtained with or without taxonomic assignment. Our taxonomy-free approach yields promising results by providing a correct assessment for 77% of examined sites. The main advantage of this method is that almost 95% of OTUs could be used for index calculation, compared to 35% in the case of the taxonomic assignment approach. Its main limitations are under-sampling and the need to calibrate the index based on the microscopic assessment of diatoms communities. However, once calibrated, the taxonomy-free molecular index can be easily standardized and applied in routine biomonitoring, as a complementary tool allowing fast and cost-effective assessment of the biological quality of watercourses. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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  • Protist metabarcoding and environmental biomonitoring: Time for change. Eur. J. Protistol. 2016 Aug;55(Pt A):12-25. S0932-4739(16)30003-7. 10.1016/j.ejop.2016.02.003.

    abstract

    High-throughput amplicon sequencing of environmental DNA and/or RNA proved to be a powerful tool to describe protist diversity. This new approach called also the metabarcoding has totally transformed our view of protist diversity, revealing a large number of novel lineages and expanding the range of protist phylogenetic diversity at almost every taxonomic level. However, until now the objectives of the vast majority of metabarcoding studies were purely academic. Practical applications of protist metabarcoding are surprisingly scarce, despite the fact that several groups of protists are commonly used as bioindicators of environmental impacts in freshwater or marine ecosystems. Here, we are reviewing studies that examine the ecological applications of metabarcoding for two groups of well-known protist bioindicators: diatoms and foraminifera. The results of these studies show that despite some biological and technical biases, molecular data quite faithfully reflect the morphology-based biotic indices and provide a similar assessment of ecosystem status. In view of these results, protist metabarcoding appears as a rapid and accurate tool for the evaluation of the quality of aquatic ecosystems. Hence, we plead for integration of protist metabarcoding in future biomonitoring projects as a complement of traditional methods and a source of new biosensors for environmental impact assessment.

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  • Environmental Monitoring: Inferring the Diatom Index from Next-Generation Sequencing Data. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2015 Jul;49(13):7597-605. 10.1021/es506158m.

    abstract

    Diatoms are widely used as bioindicators for the assessment of water quality in rivers and streams. Classically, the diatom biotic indices are based on the relative abundance of morphologically identified species weighted by their autoecological value. Obtaining such indices is time-consuming, costly, and requires excellent taxonomic expertise, which is not always available. Here we tested the possibility to overcome these limitations using a next-generation sequencing (NGS) approach to identify and quantify diatoms found in environmental DNA and RNA samples. We analyzed 27 river sites in the Geneva area (Switzerland), in order to compare the values of the Swiss Diatom Index (DI-CH) computed either by microscopic quantification of diatom species or directly from NGS data. Despite gaps in the reference database and variations in relative abundance of analyzed species, the diatom index shows a significant correlation between morphological and molecular data indicating similar biological quality status for the majority of sites. This proof-of-concept study demonstrates the potential of the NGS approach for identification and quantification of diatoms in environmental samples, opening new avenues toward the routine application of genetic tools for bioassessment and biomonitoring of aquatic ecosystems.

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  • Molecular Phylogeny and Morphology of Leannia veloxifera n. gen. et sp. Unveils a New Lineage of Monothalamous Foraminifera. J. Eukaryot. Microbiol. ;62(3):353-61. 10.1111/jeu.12190.

    abstract

    Monothalamous (single-chambered) foraminifera have long been considered as the "poor cousins" of multichambered species, which calcareous and agglutinated tests dominate in the fossil record. This view is currently changing with environmental DNA surveys showing that the monothalamids may be as diverse as hard-shelled foraminifera. Yet, the majority of numerous molecular lineages revealed by eDNA studies remain anonymous. Here, we describe a new monothalamous species and genus isolated from the sample of sea grass collected in Gulf of Eilat (Red Sea). This new species, named Leannia veloxifera, is characterized by a tiny ovoid theca (about 50-100 μm) composed of thin organic wall, with two opposite apertures. The examined individuals are multinucleated and show very active reticulopodial movement. Phylogenetic analyses of SSU rDNA, actin, and beta-tubulin (ß-tubulin) show that the species represents a novel lineage branching separately from other monothalamous foraminifera. Interestingly, the SSU rDNA sequence of the new species is very similar to an environmental foraminiferal sequence from Bahamas, suggesting that the novel lineage may represent a group of shallow-water tropical allogromiids, poorly studied until now.

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  • Arnoldiellina fluorescens gen. et sp. nov.--a new green autofluorescent foraminifer from the Gulf of Eilat (Israel). Eur. J. Protistol. 2013 May;49(2):210-6. S0932-4739(12)00061-2. 10.1016/j.ejop.2012.08.005.

    abstract

    A new monothalamous (single-chambered) soft-walled foraminiferal species, Arnoldiellina fluorescens gen. et sp. nov., was isolated from samples collected in the Gulf of Eilat, Israel. The species is characterized by a small elongate organic theca with a single aperture of allogromiids. It is characterized by the emission of green autofluorescence (GAF) that has so far not been reported from foraminifera. Phylogenetic analysis of a fragment of the 18S rDNA indicates that the species is related to a group of monothalamous foraminiferans classified as clade I. Although the morphology of the new species is very different compared to the other members of this clade, a specific helix in 18S rRNA secondary structure strongly supports this position.

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