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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #361005

Research Project: Systematics of Moths Significant to Biodiversity, Quarantine, and Control, with a Focus on Invasive Species

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Title: Interpretive trends in DNA barcoding

item DESALLE, ROB - Smithsonian Institute
item Goldstein, Paul

Submitted to: Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/26/2019
Publication Date: 9/10/2019
Citation: Desalle, R., Goldstein, P.Z. 2019. Interpretive trends in DNA barcoding. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 7(302).

Interpretive Summary: The tools of DNA barcoding developed in the early 2000s have been rapidly taken up in a variety of scientific and forensic fields. We created and analyzed a searchable database of published abstracts of over 3700 papers published over a 15 year period, and use it to explore the analytical evolution of DNA barcoding as it pertains to taxonomy and the discovery of cryptic species. This work is of interest to a wide range of biological and forensic scientists, including taxonomists, entomologists, and conservation biologists.

Technical Abstract: Interpretations and analytical practices surrounding DNA barcoding are reviewed from a compilation of over 3,756 papers (as of December 31, 2018) with “DNA Barcode” as a query in the title by year since 2004. By examining the practice of DNA barcoding in natural history and biodiversity science over this period, we examine the extent to which its purposes, premises, rationale and application have evolved. The number of studies involving identification, taxonomic decisions and the discovery of cryptic species has risen overall, and appears to have driven the publication of DNA barcode studies overall. Forensic studies and papers on biological conservation involving DNA barcodes have also tracked the ensemble number of studies but, unlike those totals, showed a sharp rise in 2017. The analytical practices, including a reliance on neighbor-joining and graphic (tree-based) criteria for species delimitation, have but appear to have expanded following the growing availability of tools in BOLD. Despite the growing availability and ease of generating potentially diagnostic sequence data exclusive of now-standard mitochondrial loci, we conclude that the paradigms of DNA barcoding data are likely to persist and, in groups such as Lepidoptera, remain a widely used tool in taxonomic science.