Marine ecosystems


Assessing the ecological quality status of the highly polluted Bagnoli area (Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy) using foraminiferal eDNA metabarcoding

Morphology-based benthic foraminifera indices are increasingly used worldwide for biomonitoring the ecological quality of marine sediments. The recent development of foraminiferal eDNA metabarcoding offers a reliable, time-, and cost-effective alternative to morphology-based foraminiferal biomonitoring. However, the practical applications of these new tools are still highly limited.

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Benthic monitoring of oil and gas offshore platforms in the North Sea using environmental DNA metabarcoding

Since 2010, considerable efforts have been undertaken to monitor the environmental status of European marine waters and ensuring the development of methodological standards for the evaluation of this status. However, the current routine biomonitoring implicates time-consuming and costly manual sorting and morphological identification of benthic macrofauna.

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Benthic foraminiferal metabarcoding and morphology-based assessment around three offshore gas platforms: Congruence and complementarity

Since the 1960 s, there has been a rapid expansion of drilling activities in the central and northern Adriatic Sea to meet the increasing global energy demand. The discharges of organic and inorganic pollutants, as well as the alteration of the sediment substrate, are among the main impacts associated with these activities.

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Multi-marker eDNA metabarcoding survey to assess the environmental impact of three offshore gas platforms in the North Adriatic Sea (Italy)

The environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding represents a new promising tool for biomonitoring and environmental impact assessment. One of the main advantages of eDNA metabarcoding, compared to the traditional morphotaxonomy-based methods, is to provide a more holistic biodiversity information that includes inconspicuous morphologically non-identifiable taxa.

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Assessing the effect of mercury pollution on cultured benthic foraminifera community using morphological and eDNA metabarcoding approaches

Mercury (Hg) is a highly toxic element for living organisms and is known to bioaccumulate and biomagnify. Here, we analyze the response of benthic foraminifera communities cultured in mesocosm and exposed to different concentrations of Hg. Standard morphological analyses and environmental DNA metabarcoding show evidence that Hg pollution has detrimental effects on benthic foraminifera.

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First evaluation of foraminiferal metabarcoding for monitoring environmental impact from an offshore oil drilling site

At present, environmental impacts from offshore oil and gas activities are partly determined by measuring changes in macrofauna diversity. Morphological identification of macrofauna is time-consuming, expensive and dependent on taxonomic expertise. In this study, we evaluated the applicability of using foraminiferal-specific metabarcoding for routine monitoring.

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High-throughput sequencing and morphology perform equally well for benthic monitoring of marine ecosystems

Environmental diversity surveys are crucial for the bioassessment of anthropogenic impacts on marine ecosystems. Traditional benthic monitoring relying on morphotaxonomic inventories of macrofaunal communities is expensive, time-consuming and expertise-demanding. High-throughput sequencing of environmental DNA barcodes (metabarcoding) offers an alternative to describe biological communities.

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A plea for high-throughput molecular monitoring of the deep-sea

Recent developments in DNA barcoding and environmental genomics based on next-generation sequencing technologies offer a new avenue for exploring the diversity of life in the oceans. These techniques can be applied to any type of marine sample (water, sediment, stomach contents) and can focus on a specific group of organisms or provide data on global biodiversity. They can be used to detect only metabolically active organisms (RNA) or to follow long-term changes by analysing DNA preserved in the environment.

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Biodiversity assessment

Patterns of eukaryotic diversity from the surface to the deep-ocean sediment

Remote deep-ocean sediment (DOS) ecosystems are among the least explored biomes on Earth. Genomic assessments of their biodiversity have failed to separate indigenous benthic organisms from sinking plankton. Here, we compare global-scale eukaryotic DNA metabarcoding datasets (18S-V9) from abyssal and lower bathyal surficial sediments and euphotic and aphotic ocean pelagic layers to distinguish plankton from benthic diversity in sediment material.

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Diatom diversity through HTS-metabarcoding in coastal European seas

Diatoms constitute a diverse lineage of unicellular organisms abundant and ecologically important in aquatic ecosystems. Compared to other protists, their biology and taxonomy are well-studied, offering the opportunity to combine traditional approaches and new technologies. We examined a dataset of diatom 18S rRNA- and rDNA- (V4 region) reads from different plankton size-fractions and sediments from six European coastal marine sites, with the aim of identifying peculiarities and commonalities with respect to the whole protistan community.

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Marine protist diversity in European coastal waters and sediments as revealed by high-throughput sequencing

Although protists are critical components of marine ecosystems, they are still poorly characterized. Here we analysed the taxonomic diversity of planktonic and benthic protist communities collected in six distant European coastal sites. Environmental deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA) from three size fractions (pico-, nano- and micro/mesoplankton), as well as from dissolved DNA and surface sediments were used as templates for tag pyrosequencing of the V4 region of the 18S ribosomal DNA.

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Biotic signals associated with benthic impacts of salmon farms from eDNA metabarcoding of sediments

Environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding can rapidly characterize the composition and diversity of benthic communities, thus it has high potential utility for routine assessments of benthic impacts of marine finfish farming. In this study, 126 sediment grab samples from 42 stations were collected at six salmon farms in British Columbia, Canada. Benthic community changes were assessed by both eDNA metabarcoding of metazoans and macrofaunal polychaete surveys.

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Supervised machine learning is superior to indicator value inference in monitoring the environmental impacts of salmon aquaculture using eDNA metabarcodes

Increasing anthropogenic impact and global change effects on natural ecosystems has prompted the development of less expensive and more efficient bioassessments methodologies. One promising approach is the integration of DNA metabarcoding in environmental monitoring. A critical step in this process is the inference of ecological quality (EQ) status from identified molecular bioindicator signatures that mirror environmental classification based on standard macroinvertebrate surveys.

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Responses of foraminifera communities to aquaculture-derived organic enrichment as revealed by environmental DNA metabarcoding

The diversity of the haemosporidian genera Plasmodium, Haemoproteus and Leucocytozoon in birds from rain forests in Madagascar is characterized combining techniques of PCR and microscopy and based on the examination of 72 host individuals of 23 species in 15 families. High total prevalence of haemosporidians (68%) is detected, with Leucocytozoon infections being predominant (59.7%) and lower comparable prevalence of Plasmodium (18.0%) and Haemoproteus (23.6%) infections.

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A comparison of different ciliate metabarcode genes as bioindicators for environmental impact assessments of salmon aquaculture

Ciliates are powerful indicators for monitoring the impact of aquaculture and other industrial activities in the marine environment. Here we tested the efficiency of four different genetic markers (V4 and V9 regions of the SSU rRNA gene, D1 and D2 regions of the LSU rRNA gene, obtained from environmental (e)DNA and environmental (e)RNA) of benthic ciliate communities for environmental monitoring.

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Metabarcoding of benthic ciliate communities shows high potential for environmental monitoring in salmon aquaculture

The backbone of benthic marine monitoring programs is the biological component, traditionally the macrofauna inventory. Such macrofauna-based environmental impact assessments (EIA), however, are very time consuming and expensive. To overcome these shortcomings, we used environmental metabarcoding to test the potential of protists as bioindicators in EIAs.

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Environmental DNA metabarcoding of benthic bacterial communities indicates the benthic footprint of salmon aquaculture

We evaluated benthic bacterial communities as bioindicators in environmental impact assessments of salmon aquaculture, a rapidly growing sector of seafood industry. Sediment samples (n=72) were collected from below salmon cages towards distant reference sites. Bacterial community profiles inferred from DNA metabarcodes were compared to reference data from standard macrofauna biomonitoring surveys of the same samples.

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Benthic monitoring of salmon farms in Norway using foraminiferal metabarcoding

The rapid growth of the salmon industry necessitates the development of fast and accurate tools to assess its environmental impact. Macrobenthic monitoring is commonly used to measure the impact of organic enrichment associated with salmon farm activities. However, classical benthic monitoring can hardly answer the rapidly growing demand because the morphological identification of macro-invertebrates is time-consuming, expensive and requires taxonomic expertise.

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Accurate assessment of the impact of salmon farming on benthic sediment enrichment using foraminiferal metabarcoding

Assessing the environmental impact of salmon farms on benthic systems is traditionally undertaken using biotic indices derived from microscopic analyses of macrobenthic infaunal (MI) communities. In this study, we tested the applicability of using foraminiferal-specific high-throughput sequencing (HTS) metabarcoding for monitoring these habitats.

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Environmental monitoring through protist next-generation sequencing metabarcoding: assessing the impact of fish farming on benthic foraminifera communities

The measurement of species diversity represents a powerful tool for assessing the impacts of human activities on marine ecosystems. Traditionally, the impact of fish farming on the coastal environment is evaluated by monitoring the dynamics of macrobenthic infaunal populations. However, taxonomic sorting and morphology-based identification of the macrobenthos demand highly trained specialists and are extremely time-consuming and costly, making it unsuitable for large-scale biomonitoring efforts involving numerous samples.

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Molecular evidence for aquarium origin of green alga Caulerpa taxifolia introduced to the Mediterranean Sea

Here, we present the first molecular evidence that the tropical green alga Caulerpa taxifolia, which is quickly spreading in the Mediterranean and out-competing native species, escaped to the sea from a public or private aquarium. Our data show that this alga is genetically identical to the strain cultivated in western European aquaria since the early 1970s The facility with which this strain is obtained world-wide represents a potential danger of additional biological invasions.

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ID-GENE ecodiagnostics

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