Saturday, September 26, 2015

School DNA Barcodes published

Participants of the School Malaise Trap program told us repeatedly that perhaps the most important aspect of the project, the one that students regard as particularly exciting, is the fact that they take part in the creation of a valuable public and scientific resource. They know their work will have a lasting impact.

In case there are people that had any doubts that school data would actually be used in science let me point you to a new paper published just yesterday. Research colleagues in Norway analysed data of the chironomid genus Tanytarsus

We explore the quality of DNA barcodes to delimit species in the diverse chironomid genus Tanytarsus (Diptera: Chironomidae) by using different analytical tools. The genus Tanytarsus is the most species-rich taxon of tribe Tanytarsini (Diptera: Chironomidae) with more than 400 species worldwide, some of which can be notoriously difficult to identify to species-level using morphology. Our dataset, based on sequences generated from own material and publicly available data in BOLD, consist of 2790 DNA barcodes with a fragment length of at least 500 base pairs. A neighbor joining tree of this dataset comprises 131 well separated clusters representing 121 morphological species of Tanytarsus: 77 named, 16 unnamed and 28 unidentified theoretical species. 

Chironomids are notoriously common in Malaise trap collections. It comes to no surprise that a global search for data records will reveal some school samples. However, to my knowledge this is the first time such a result makes it into a research paper. In total the study includes 47 samples from Canadian schools. And here we go - congratulations to the following schools. Your data have just made it into PLoS ONE.

  • Belfountain Public School
  • Centennial CVI, Guelph
  • John F. Ross C.V.I., Guelph
  • Hagersville Elementary School
  • Listowel Central Public School
  • Craig Kielburger Secondary School, Milton
  • Woodcrest Public School, Oshawa
  • Owen Sound C.V.I.
  • Mornington Central School, Perth East
  • Little Falls Public School, St. Marys
  • St. Marys District C.V.I.
  • Sacred Heart School, Teeswater
  • Walpole Island Elementary School, Wallaceburg
  • Donald A. Wilson Secondary School, Whitby

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