Application of genetic bar-coding

Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre

A new project, led by the Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre’s (MDFRC) Gavin Rees and Michael Shackleton on the Albury-Wodonga Campus will see the team carrying out complementary classical identification procedures and DNA bar-coding on macroinvertebrates encountered in our Murray monitoring programs.

The project will initially aim at producing a bar-code reference library for three sites on the Murray River. This library will form the backbone for future studies by providing a means of identifying unknown specimens to known vouchered species through analyses of bar-code DNA sequences. The database of sequence information that will be generated by MDFRC will contribute to the move toward more accurate and cost-effective monitoring of macroinvertebrate biodiversity.

Accurate identification of organisms is fundamental to assessing the condition of water dependent ecosystems.  Monitoring the outcomes of restoration activities and undertaking research on food web dynamics relies heavily on such identification. A number of factors can inhibit our ability to identify an organism to species, including if specimens are damaged, of young life stages, or have un-known or ambiguous taxonomy.

The development of genetic approaches to taxonomy will increase the capacity of MDFRC to identify animals to species level, increase the efficiency of sample processing, and provide new insights into water dependent ecosystem function.

This work is being funded by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

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