Centro de Biologia Molecular e Ambiental

Centre of Molecular and Environmental Biology

DNA Barcoding for Species Assignment: The Case of Mediterranean Marine Fishes


A core library of DNA barcodes for marine fishes of Europe

CBMA researchers are leading authors of the final study (published last week in PLos One (1)) of a set of 4 scientific papers (1-4) that will contribute to improve the knowledge of European marine ichthyofauna. This set of papers comprises a checklist for over 1000 marine fish species recorded in Portuguese waters (4), and reports on DNA barcodes for fish species from 3 large European marine areas (1-3). Together, they provide a core library of DNA barcodes for over 275 species, establishing a backbone for a DNA-based identification system for marine fishes in Europe.

 To produce this set of studies, CBMA researchers engaged in an international collaborative effort with research groups in Canada, Germany, Italy, Malta and UK, and also with other groups in Portugal, with a particular contribute from researchers at the Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA).

Once fully implemented, this system will provide accurate and comparatively fast identifications of marine fish species in a multitude of scenarios of relevance for researchers, governmental agencies and, ultimately, to fish consumers.  Fish stock assessment and management can benefit from data on genetic divergence among fish populations, or improved assessments of stock recruitment, spawning periods and areas, by means of identification of planktonic fish eggs and larvae. Unique data on marine trophic chains and webs can potentially be found by applying DNA barcode analyses to fish stomach contents. Finally, this reference library can also became central for control of fish products authenticity, a raising concern among European consumers.

Although this core reference library of DNA barcodes comprises only about 20% of the European marine ichthyofauna, the majority of commercially exploited species is already included. However, a continuing effort is required to complete and carefully validate the reference library, in order to make the most of this new DNA-based identification system for marine fishes in Europe.

(1) Landi M, Dimech M, Arculeo M., Biondo G., Martins R, Carneiro M, Carvalho GR, Lo Brutto S, Costa FO (2014). DNA barcoding for species assignment: the case of Mediterranean marine fishes. PLoS ONE 9: 106135. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106135

(2) Knebelsberger T, Landi M, Neumann H, Kloppmann M, Sell A, Campbell PD, Laakmann S, Raupach MJ, Carvalho GR, Costa FO (2014). A reliable DNA barcode reference library for the identification of the North European shelf fish fauna. Molecular Ecology Resources 14: 1060-1071. doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.12238

(3) Costa FO, Landi M, Martins R, Costa MH, Costa ME, Carneiro M, Alves MJ, Steinke D, Carvalho GR (2012). A ranking system for reference libraries of DNA barcodes: Application to marine fish species from Portugal. PLoS ONE 7: e35858. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035858

(4) Carneiro M, Martins R, Landi M, Costa FO (2014). Updated checklist of marine fishes (Chordata: Craniata) from Portugal and the proposed extension of the Portuguese continental shelf. European Journal of Taxonomy 73: 1-73. doi: 10.5852/ejt.2014.73

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