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Biodiversity assessments in the 21st century: The potential of insect traps to complement environmental samples for estimating eukaryotic and prokaryotic diversity using high-throughput DNA metabarcoding.

Journal article
Authors Camila Ritter
Sibylle Häggqvist
Ilari Sääksjärvi
Dave Karlsson
Muthama Muasya
R. Henrik Nilsson
Alexandre Antonelli
Published in Genome
Volume 62
Issue 3
Pages 147-159
ISSN 1480-3321
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages 147-159
Language en
Subject categories Agricultural Science, Forestry and Fisheries, Forest Science, Soil Science, Fish and Aquacultural Science, Microbiology, Botany, Zoology, Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, Ecology, Biological Systematics


The rapid loss of biodiversity, coupled with difficulties in species identification, call for innovative approaches to assess biodiversity. Insects make up a substantial proportion of extant diversity and play fundamental roles in any given ecosystem. To complement morphological species identification, new techniques such as metabarcoding make it possible to quantify insect diversity and insect-ecosystem interactions through DNA sequencing. Here we examine the potential of bulk insect samples (i.e., containing many non-sorted specimens) to assess prokaryote and eukaryote biodiversity and to complement the taxonomic coverage of soil samples. We sampled 25 sites on three continents and in various ecosystems, collecting insects with Slam-traps (Brazil) and Malaise-traps (South Africa and Sweden). We then compared our diversity estimates with the results obtained with biodiversity data from soil samples from the same localities. We found a largely different taxonomic composition between the soil and insect samples, testifying to the potential of bulk insect samples to complement soil samples. Finally, we found that non-destructive DNA extraction protocols, which preserve insect specimens for morphological studies, constitute a promising choice for cost-effective biodiversity assessments. We propose that the sampling and sequencing of insect samples should become a standard complement for biodiversity studies based on environmental DNA.

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