DNA barcoding is a useful tool for identification and discrimination of species across most taxonomic groups of marine zooplankton. DNA barcodes can also reveal cryptic, rare, and invasive species, link different life cycle stages of a species, and – increasingly – characterize patterns of biodiversity based on environmental sequencing (also called metabarcoding).
A variety of genes have been used for DNA barcoding, including most frequently mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I (COI), but also other mitochondrial (16S rRNA, COII) and nuclear genes (18S rRNA). With some exceptions, genes suited for discrimination of closely-related species typically provide very weak phylogenetic information at higher taxonomic levels. Hence, barcodes cannot be used to identify and classify species for which no barcode has been determined. In this sense, lack of a complete DNA barcode reference library is the most limiting factor for accurate and reliable discrimination and identification of zooplankton species. In particular, comprehensive databases are needed for metabarcoding efforts that seek to characterize species-level diversity of marine zooplankton assemblages and ecosystems.
The purpose of this workshop is to encourage wide-ranging discussion of the concept of a taxonomically-comprehensive, global DNA barcode reference database linking DNA sequences of zooplankton to accurately-identified specimens. The goal of the workshop is to consider costs and benefits, prospects and impediments, and work toward to a realistic plan to encourage and facilitate progress toward a DNA barcode reference database. Among practical considerations to be discussed are: