• Open Access

Biodiversity soup: metabarcoding of arthropods for rapid biodiversity assessment and biomonitoring

Authors

  • Douglas W. Yu,

    Corresponding author
    1. Ecology, Conservation, and Environment Center (ECEC), State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 32 Jiaochang East Rd., Kunming, Yunnan 650223, China
    2. School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, Norfolk NR47TJ, UK
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    • Joint first authors.

  • Yinqiu Ji,

    1. Ecology, Conservation, and Environment Center (ECEC), State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 32 Jiaochang East Rd., Kunming, Yunnan 650223, China
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    • Joint first authors.

  • Brent C. Emerson,

    1. School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, Norfolk NR47TJ, UK
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    • Present address: Island Ecology and Evolution Research Group, IPNA-CSIC, C/Astrofísico Francisco Sánchez 3, 38206 La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.

  • Xiaoyang Wang,

    1. Ecology, Conservation, and Environment Center (ECEC), State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 32 Jiaochang East Rd., Kunming, Yunnan 650223, China
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  • Chengxi Ye,

    1. Ecology, Conservation, and Environment Center (ECEC), State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 32 Jiaochang East Rd., Kunming, Yunnan 650223, China
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  • Chunyan Yang,

    1. Ecology, Conservation, and Environment Center (ECEC), State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 32 Jiaochang East Rd., Kunming, Yunnan 650223, China
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  • Zhaoli Ding

    1. Kunming Biodiversity Large-Apparatus Regional Center, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650223, China
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Correspondence author. E-mail: dougwyu@gmail.com

Summary

1. Traditional biodiversity assessment is costly in time, money and taxonomic expertise. Moreover, data are frequently collected in ways (e.g. visual bird lists) that are unsuitable for auditing by neutral parties, which is necessary for dispute resolution.

2. We present protocols for the extraction of ecological, taxonomic and phylogenetic information from bulk samples of arthropods. The protocols combine mass trapping of arthropods, mass-PCR amplification of the COI barcode gene, pyrosequencing and bioinformatic analysis, which together we call ‘metabarcoding’.

3. We construct seven communities of arthropods (mostly insects) and show that it is possible to recover a substantial proportion of the original taxonomic information. We further demonstrate, for the first time, that metabarcoding allows for the precise estimation of pairwise community dissimilarity (beta diversity) and within-community phylogenetic diversity (alpha diversity), despite the inevitable loss of taxonomic information inherent to metabarcoding.

4. Alpha and beta diversity metrics are the raw materials of ecology and the environmental sciences, facilitating assessment of the state of the environment with a broad and efficient measure of biodiversity.

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