Friday, January 29, 2016

Barcodes to validate mitogenomic data

Mitogenomic data are increasingly used in many fields of biology especially since new sequencing technology enabled us to retrieve them rather easy and at low cost. However, very often with increasing numbers the chance for the occurrence of erroneous data increases as well. Over the years I came across a couple of fish mitogenomes that were assigned to the wrong species likely due to initial mis-identification. 

A new paper in Mitochondrial DNA - the journal that probably publishes most of the current papers on newly sequences mitogenomes - shows another case of such a erroneous assignment, this time for a bat sequence. However, the authors don't stop there, they actually propose some best practices for future studies to implement some sort of quality control. Some of the proposed standards are pretty common withing the DNA barcoding community and others actually suggest to use DNA barcoding to confirm the identity of a species.

Here is what the authors propose:

Proposed guidelines for accurately reporting new mitogenomes

(1) Provide detailed information on the origin of the sample used for mitogenome sequencing.

(2) Conduct a phylogenetic analysis of the new mitogenome in the context of closely related species.

(3) Provide a barcoding identification assessment of the sample thanks to a ML tree based on the closest available sequences.

There is much more detail on each of the three points in the paper and I hope it will be used as quality control standard for Mitogenome Announcement publications in Mitochondrial DNA and elsewhere. 

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