Environmental status assessment using DNA metabarcoding: Towards a genetics based marine biotic index (gAMBI)

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Abstract

Marine ecosystem protection and conservation initiatives rely on the assessment of ecological integrity and health status of marine environments. The AZTI's Marine Biotic Index (AMBI), which consists on using macroinvertebrate diversity as indicator of ecosystem health, is used worldwide for this purpose. Yet, this index requires taxonomic assignment of specimens, which typically involves a time and resource consuming visual identification of each sample. DNA barcoding or metabarcoding are potential harmonized, faster and cheaper alternatives for species identification, although the suitability of these methods for easing the implementation of the AMBI is yet to be evaluated. Here, we analyze the requirements for the implementation of a genetics based AMBI (gAMBI), and show, using available sequence data, that information about presence/absence of the most frequently occurring species provides accurate AMBI values. Our results set the basics for the implementation of the gAMBI, which has direct implications for a faster and cheaper marine monitoring and health status assessment. © 2014 Aylagas et al.

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Aylagas, E., Borja, Á., & Rodríguez-Ezpeleta, N. (2014). Environmental status assessment using DNA metabarcoding: Towards a genetics based marine biotic index (gAMBI). PLoS ONE, 9(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0090529

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