Ribosomal DNA is commonly used as a marker for protist phylogeny and taxonomy because of its ubiquity and its expected species specificity thanks to the mechanism of concerted evolution. However, numerous studies reported the occurrence of intragenomic (intra-individual) polymorphism in various protists and particularly in Foraminifera.
DNA barcoding is the molecular identification of species using short, standardized gene sequences. Numerous applications of DNA barcoding in taxonomy, ecology, bioconservation, and biosafety contributed to a spectacular development of this initiative administered by the Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL).
Protists are key players in microbial communities, yet our understanding of their role in ecosystem functioning is seriously impeded by difficulties in identification of protistan species and their quantification. Current microscopy-based methods used for determining the abundance of protists are tedious and often show a low taxonomic resolution.
A group of protist experts proposes a two-step DNA barcoding approach, comprising a universal eukaryotic pre-barcode followed by group-specific barcodes, to unveil the hidden biodiversity of microbial eukaryotes.