DNA Barcoding Approach to Identify Benthic Invertebrates from a Mine Site in Ontario


Ms Janet Topan, Ms Mary Murdoch, Dr Mario Thomas, Ms Nancy Duquet-Harvey, Dr Robert Hanner, Mr Mike Johns, Dr Sarah Adamowicz, Mr Joe Keene

Biomonitoring requires the collection and identification of specimens to establish baseline characteristics of the biological community and track changes over time and space. Taxonomic identification of specimens is currently done morphologically, but several factors can limit accurate morphological identification. DNA-based approaches, like barcoding, offer attractive solutions because they can be automated and are more objective, repeatable, rapid and scalable than morphological approaches. Successful identification using DNA barcoding requires a robust reference library against which the specimen barcodes can be matched. The aims of this study included assessing: 1) the ability to recover DNA barcodes from specimens collected for morphological identification as part of a mine’s monitoring program; 2) the maturity of the existing barcode library in providing matches to the specimens; and 3) the congruence of specimen identifications from morphology and barcoding approaches. Results of this pilot study will be presented along with recommendations for follow-on work, including: development of standardized field collection procedures, improvements to the existing DNA barcode library, and investigation of DNA barcoding as a potential time-saving approach. The presentation will also highlight the potential application of DNA barcoding in biomonitoring conducted to meet legal requirements, such as the federal environmental effects monitoring program.