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Open AccessArticle

Single Fragment or Bulk Soil DNA Metabarcoding: Which is Better for Characterizing Biological Taxa Found in Surface Soils for Sample Separation?

Department of Population Health and Pathobiology, North Carolina State University, 1060 William Moore Drive, Raleigh, NC 27607, USA
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Genes 2019, 10(6), 431; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10060431
Received: 17 April 2019 / Revised: 2 June 2019 / Accepted: 5 June 2019 / Published: 6 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue DNA Barcoding and Metabarcoding of Complex Matrices)
In forensic geology casework, sample size typically limits routine characterization of material using bulk approaches. To address this, DNA-based characterization of biological taxa has received attention, as the taxa present can be useful for sample-to-sample comparisons and source attribution. In our initial work, low biodiversity was captured when DNA barcodes were Sanger-sequenced from plant and insect fragments isolated from 10 forensic-type surface soils. Considering some forensic laboratories now have access to massively parallel sequencing platforms, we assessed whether biological taxa present in the same surface soils could be better characterized using DNA metabarcoding. To achieve this, plant and animal barcodes were amplified and sequenced on an Illumina® MiniSeq for three different DNA sample types (n = 50): individual fragments used in our initial study, and 250 and 100 mg of bulk soil (from the 10 sites used in the initial study). A total of 572 unique target barcode sequences passed quality filtering and were used in downstream statistical analyses: 54, 321, and 285 for individual fragments, 100 mg, and 250 mg bulk soil samples, respectively. Plant barcodes permitted some spatial separation of sample sites in non-metric multidimensional scaling plots; better separation was obtained for samples prepared from bulk soil. This study confirmed that bulk soil DNA metabarcoding is a better approach for characterizing biological taxa present in surface soils, which could supplement traditional geologic examinations. View Full-Text
Keywords: DNA barcoding; DNA metabarcoding; plants; animals; forensic-type soils DNA barcoding; DNA metabarcoding; plants; animals; forensic-type soils
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Boggs, L.M.; Scheible, M.K.R.; Machado, G.; Meiklejohn, K.A. Single Fragment or Bulk Soil DNA Metabarcoding: Which is Better for Characterizing Biological Taxa Found in Surface Soils for Sample Separation? Genes 2019, 10, 431.

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