DNA metabarcoding is a rapid method of biodiversity assessment that combines two technologies: DNA based identification and high-throughput DNA sequencing.
DNA metabarcoding infers the species composition of an environmental sample by amplifying, sequencing, and analysing target genomic regions. It differs from DNA barcoding in the use of high-throughput sequencing. This technique allows for DNA sequencing of bulk samples without a prior step of specimen sorting.
With DNA metabarcoding we can identify organisms down to various taxonomic levels and compare the taxa composition among samples. DNA metabarcoding can be used even when DNA is degraded. Therefore, it is possible to analyse taxa diversity in samples such as soil, faeces, or sediments.
Reasons for increasing popularity of DNA metabarcoding
There is an increasing demand for this technology in a variety of fields, such as:
1 . Microbial ecology, for characterising microbial communities from several types of samples (water, soil, air…).
2 . Aerobiology, for identifying organisms present in air samples, like bacteria, fungal spores, and pollen.
3 . Feeding ecology, where prey species can be identified by analysing DNA from the predators’ faeces.
4 . Soil biology, for identifying organisms (bacteria, fungi, small animals…) present in soil samples.
5 . Ecosystem monitoring, for screening bioindicator species present in several types of samples.
6 . Marine and freshwater biology, for identifying microalgae and larvae present in water samples.