Identifying Canadian Freshwater Fishes through DNA BarcodesReport as inadecuate

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DNA barcoding aims to provide an efficient method for species-level identifications using an array of species specific molecular tags derived from the 5′ region of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I COI gene. The efficiency of the method hinges on the degree of sequence divergence among species and species-level identifications are relatively straightforward when the average genetic distance among individuals within a species does not exceed the average genetic distance between sister species. Fishes constitute a highly diverse group of vertebrates that exhibit deep phenotypic changes during development. In this context, the identification of fish species is challenging and DNA barcoding provide new perspectives in ecology and systematics of fishes. Here we examined the degree to which DNA barcoding discriminate freshwater fish species from the well-known Canadian fauna, which currently encompasses nearly 200 species, some which are of high economic value like salmons and sturgeons.

Methodology-Principal Findings

We bi-directionally sequenced the standard 652 bp -barcode- region of COI for 1360 individuals belonging to 190 of the 203 Canadian freshwater fish species 95%. Most species were represented by multiple individuals 7.6 on average, the majority of which were retained as voucher specimens. The average genetic distance was 27 fold higher between species than within species, as K2P distance estimates averaged 8.3% among congeners and only 0.3% among concpecifics. However, shared polymorphism between sister-species was detected in 15 species 8% of the cases. The distribution of K2P distance between individuals and species overlapped and identifications were only possible to species group using DNA barcodes in these cases. Conversely, deep hidden genetic divergence was revealed within two species, suggesting the presence of cryptic species.


The present study evidenced that freshwater fish species can be efficiently identified through the use of DNA barcoding, especially the species complex of small-sized species, and that the present COI library can be used for subsequent applications in ecology and systematics.

Author: Nicolas Hubert, Robert Hanner, Erling Holm, Nicholas E. Mandrak, Eric Taylor, Mary Burridge, Douglas Watkinson, Pierre Dumont, Al



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