DNA barcoding discriminates echinoderm species


Robert Ward, Fax: + 61 3 6232 5000; E-mail: bob.ward@csiro.au


DNA barcode sequences (a 657-bp segment of the mtDNA cytochrome oxidase I gene, COI) were collected from 191 species (503 specimens) of Echinodermata. All five classes were represented: Ophiuroidea, Asteroidea, Echinoidea, Holothuroidea and Crinoidea. About 30% of sequences were collected specifically for this study, the remainder came from GenBank. Fifty-one species were represented by multiple samples, with a mean intraspecific divergence of 0.62%. Several possible instances of cryptic speciation were noted. Thirty-two genera were represented by multiple species, with a mean congeneric divergence of 15.33%. One hundred and eighty-seven of the 191 species (97.9%) could be distinguished by their COI barcodes. Those that could not were from the echinoid genus Amblypneustes. Neighbour-joining trees of COI sequences generally showed low bootstrap support for anything other than shallow splits, although with very rare exceptions, members of the same class clustered together. Two ophiuran species, in both nucleotide and amino acid neighbour-joining trees, grouped loosely as sister taxa to Crinoidea rather than Ophiuroidea; sequences of these two species appear to have evolved very quickly. Results suggest that DNA barcoding is likely to be an effective, accurate and useful method of species diagnosis for all five classes of Echinodermata.