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Friday 24 February 2012
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Diet analysis using NGS

POMPANON François

The analysis of food webs and their dynamics facilitates understanding of the mechanistic processes behind community ecology and ecosystem functions. Having accurate techniques for determining dietary ranges and components is critical for this endeavour. While visual analyses and early molecular approaches are highly labour intensive and often lack resolution, recent DNA-based approaches potentially provide more accurate methods for dietary studies. A suite of approaches have been used based on the identification of consumed species by characterization of DNA present in gut or faecal samples. In one approach, a standardized DNA region (DNA barcode) is PCR amplified, amplicons are sequenced and then compared to a reference database for identification. Initially, this involved sequencing clones from PCR products, and studies were limited in scale because of the costs and effort required. The recent development of next generation sequencing (NGS) has made this approach much more powerful, by allowing the direct characterization of dozens of samples with several thousand sequences per PCR product, and has the potential to reveal many consumed species simultaneously (DNA metabarcoding). Continual improvement of NGS technologies, on-going decreases in costs and current massive expansion of reference databases make this approach promising. Here we review the power and pitfalls of NGS diet methods. We present the critical factors to take into account when choosing or designing a suitable barcode. Then, we consider both technical and analytical aspects of NGS diet studies. Finally, we discuss the validation of data accuracy including the viability of producing quantitative data. (open access paper: Pompanon et al. 2012 Mol Ecol. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05403.x)

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Editorial board
  • BRANDNER Melissa
    • University of Nordland
    • Bodø (Norway)
  • BROCHMANN Christian
    • National Centre for Biosystematics
    • Oslo (Norway)
  • CHARITON Anthony
    • CSIRO Land and Water
    • Lucas Heights NA (Australia)
  • DEAGLE Bruce
    • University of Victoria
    • Victoria (Canada)
  • Eric Coissac
    • LECA
    • Grenoble (France)
  • KASAPIDIS Panagiotis
    • Hellenic Center for Marine Research
    • Irakleion, Crete (Greece)
  • PAWLOWSKI Jan
    • Université de Genève
    • Genève 4 (Switzerland)
  • TABERLET Pierre
    • LECA,
    • Grenoble (France)
  • WILLERSLEV Eske
    • Centre for GeoGenetics
    • Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • ZINGER Lucie
    • IBENS
    • Paris (France)
Editorial
  • Vodka, Bison and Metabarcoding

    31 July 2015, by BRANDNER Melissa

    The start of last month saw the occurrence of the Fifth Metabarcoding Spring School held in Białowieża National Park , Poland. A variety of scientists attended from all over the globe to learn, share and inspire with unique stories of metabarcoding.
    The scientists at the Mammal Research Institute PAS in Białowieża National Park hosted this year’s workshop. And our hats go off to them for the organizational skills, warmth and hospitality. During the week, experienced metabarcoders gave lectures on their trials and tribulations in the field of metabarcoding, sparking conversations between the attendees. The end of the first day saw flash talks from all participants of the event, creating an icebreaker and showing the wide variety of applications for metabarcoding, including, dietary studies, environmental health, fundamental ecology and exploration of rare and ancient habitats.
    Pierre Taberlet (who is rumoured to run 8000 PCR a day!) taught technical aspects such as DNA extraction in (...)

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