Cob gene pyrosequencing enables characterization of benthic dinoflagellate diversity and biogeography

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Journal Article
Environmental Microbiology, 2014, 16 (2), pp. 467 - 485
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Dinoflagellates in marine benthic habitats living epiphytically on macroalgae are an important but highly understudied group of protists. Many produce toxins that can have severe economic impacts on marine-based economies, and improved monitoring tools are required to enhance the management of toxin-related hazards. We analysed the distribution and diversity of epibenthic dinoflagellates inhabiting eight sites in Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Broome and Exmouth, Western Australia. We used pyrosequencing approaches based on two DNA barcoding marker genes - 18S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) and mitochondrial cytochrome b (cob) - and compared these to an approach based on clone libraries (197 sequences) using the cob gene. Dinoflagellate sequences accounted for 133 [64 unique operational taxonomic units (OTU)] out of 10529 18S rRNA gene sequences obtained from all samples. However, using the dinoflagellate specific assay targeting the cob gene marker, we obtained 9748 (1217 unique OTU) dinoflagellate sequences from the same environmental samples, providing the largest, to date, set of dinoflagellate cob gene sequences and reliable estimates of total dinoflagellate richness within the samples and biogeographic comparisons between samples. This study also reports the presence of potentially toxic species of the genera Gambierdiscus, Ostreopsis, Coolia, Prorocentrum and Amphidinium from the above-mentioned geographical regions. © 2013 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
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