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Plant DNA barcodes and species resolution in sedges (Carex, Cyperaceae).

Molecular ecology resources (2009-05-01)
Julian R Starr, Robert F C Naczi, Brianna N Chouinard

We investigate the species discriminatory power of a subset of the proposed plant barcoding loci (matK, rbcL, rpoC1, rpoB, trnH-psbA) in Carex, a cosmopolitan genus that represents one of the three largest plant genera on earth (c. 2000 species). To assess the ability of barcoding loci to resolve Carex species, we focused our sampling on three of the taxonomically best-known groups in the genus, sections Deweyanae (6/8 species sampled), Griseae (18/21 species sampled), and Phyllostachyae (10/10 species sampled). Each group represents one of three major phylogenetic lineages previously identified in Carex and its tribe Cariceae, thus permitting us to evaluate the potential of DNA barcodes to broadly identify species across the tribe and to differentiate closely related sister species. Unlike some previous studies that have suggested that plant barcoding could achieve species identification rates around 90%, our results suggest that no single locus or multilocus barcode examined will resolve much greater than 60% of Carex species. In fact, no multilocus combination can significantly increase the resolution and statistical support (i.e., ≥ 70% bootstrap) for species than matK alone, even combinations involving the second most variable region, trnH-psbA. Results suggest that a matK barcode could help with species discovery as 47% of Carex taxa recently named or resolved within cryptic complexes in the past 25 years also formed unique species clusters in upgma trees. Comparisons between the nrDNA internal transcribed spacer region (ITS) and matK in sect. Phyllostachyae suggest that matK not only discriminates more species (50-60% vs. 25%), but it provides more resolved phylogenies than ITS. Given the low levels of species resolution in rpoC1 and rpoB (0-13%), and difficulties with polymerase chain reaction amplification and DNA sequencing in rbcL and trnH-psbA (alignment included), we strongly advocate that matK should be part of a universal plant barcoding system. Although identification rates in this study are low, they can be significantly improved by a regional approach to barcoding.

Product Number
Product Description

JumpStart Taq DNA Polymerase, without MgCl2