Data_Sheet_2_DNA Metabarcoding Methods for the Study of Marine Benthic Meiofauna: A Review.xlsx
Meiofaunal animals, roughly between 0.045 and 1 mm in size, are ubiquitous and ecologically important inhabitants of benthic marine ecosystems. Their high species richness and rapid response to environmental change make them promising targets for ecological and biomonitoring studies. However, diversity patterns of benthic marine meiofauna remain poorly known due to challenges in species identification using classical morphological methods. DNA metabarcoding is a powerful tool to overcome this limitation. Here, we review DNA metabarcoding approaches used in studies on marine meiobenthos with the aim of facilitating researchers to make informed decisions for the implementation of DNA metabarcoding in meiofaunal biodiversity monitoring. We found that the applied methods vary greatly between researchers and studies, and concluded that further explicit comparisons of protocols are needed to apply DNA metabarcoding as a standard tool for assessing benthic meiofaunal community composition. Key aspects that require additional consideration include: (1) comparability of sample pre-treatment methods; (2) integration of different primers and molecular markers for both the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) and the nuclear 18S rRNA genes to maximize taxon recovery; (3) precise and standardized description of sampling methods to allow for comparison and replication; and (4) evaluation and testing of bioinformatic pipelines to enhance comparability between studies. By enhancing comparability between the various approaches currently used for the different aspects of the analyses, DNA metabarcoding will improve the long-term integrative potential for surveying and biomonitoring marine benthic meiofauna.