Are genetic databases sufficiently populated to detect non-indigenous species?
Correct species identifications are of tremendous importance for invasion ecology, as mistakes could lead to misdirecting limited resources against harmless species or inaction against problematic ones. DNA barcoding is becoming a promising and reliable tool for species identifications, however the efficacy of such molecular taxonomy depends on gene region(s) that provide a unique sequence to differentiate among species and on availability of reference sequences in existing genetic databases. Here, we assembled a list of aquatic and terrestrial non-indigenous species (NIS) and checked two leading genetic databases for corresponding sequences of six genome regions used for DNA barcoding. The genetic databases were checked in 2010, 2012, and 2016. All four aquatic kingdoms (Animalia, Chromista, Plantae and Protozoa) were initially equally represented in the genetic databases, with 64, 65, 69, and 61 % of NIS included, respectively. Sequences for terrestrial NIS were present at rates of 58 and 78 % for Animalia and Plantae, respectively. Six years later, the number of sequences for aquatic NIS increased to 75, 75, 74, and 63 % respectively, while those for terrestrial NIS increased to 74 and 88 % respectively. Genetic databases are marginally better populated with sequences of terrestrial NIS of plants compared to aquatic NIS and terrestrial NIS of animals. The rate at which sequences are added to databases is not equal among taxa. Though some groups of NIS are not detectable at all based on available data—mostly aquatic ones—encouragingly, current availability of sequences of taxa with environmental and/or economic impact is relatively good and continues to increase with time. © 2016, The Author(s).
Briski, E.; Ghabooli, S.; Bailey, S. A.; and MacIsaac, H. J., "Are genetic databases sufficiently populated to detect non-indigenous species?" (2016). Biological Invasions, 18, 7, 1911-1922.