|Marine benthic metabarcoding: anthropogenic effects on benthic diversity from shore to deep sea; assessed by metabarcoding and traditional taxonomy
Klunder, L. (2020). Marine benthic metabarcoding: anthropogenic effects on benthic diversity from shore to deep sea; assessed by metabarcoding and traditional taxonomy. PhD Thesis. University of Groningen: Groningen. ISBN 978-94-034-2615-0; e-ISBN 978-94-034-2614-3. 178 pp. https://hdl.handle.net/11370/aacbff17-cf50-4a88-8889-b14ed0e82392
The marine ecosystem is one of Earth’s most valuable natural resources and marine benthic communities are a crucial component of this ecosystem. However, benthic communities are under stress due to anthropogenic influences such as habitat alterations, overexploitation and pollution. To be able to anticipate on such changes, monitoring the benthic diversity in a consistent and reliable way is essential. Traditional methods for measuring biodiversity, using morphological taxonomy of individual specimens, is time-consuming and requires specialized taxonomic knowledge. In the past decade, molecular tools and more specific DNA metabarcoding has emerged as an alternative method for species identification. In this thesis I explored the application of metabarcoding methods to assess marine benthic biodiversity.The work I presented in this thesis showed that metabarcoding is a valuable approach to assess anthropogenic effects on marine benthic communities. Compared to traditional morphological taxonomy, the metabarcoding approach gave comparable outcomes regarding the impact of anthropogenic influences. Moreover, the metabarcoding approach was able to include more taxa in the assessment and hence increase the power of the analysis. However, the metabarcoding approach also has limitations compared to the traditional approach. For instance, quantitative analyses are limited and gaps in the reference library can lead to misidentifications of taxa. Nonetheless, rapid developments are still made for the metabarcoding approach and molecular approaches in general. These developments may soon overcome many of the limitations and will probably increase the value of this approach even further.