Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

The quality of sequence data affects biodiversity and conservation perspectives in the Neotropical damselfly Megaloprepus caerulatus

Ideally, the footprint of the evolutionary history of a species is drawn from integrative studies including quantitative and qualitative taxonomy, biogeography, ecology, and molecular genetics. In today’s research, species delimitations and identification of conservation units is often accompanied by a set of—at minimum—two sequence markers appropriate for the systematic level under investigation. Two such studies re-evaluated the species status in the world’s largest Odonata, the Neotropical damselfly Megaloprepus caerulatus. The species status of the genus Megaloprepus has long been debated. Despite applying a highly similar set of sequence markers, the two studies reached different conclusions concerning species status and population genetic relationships. In this study, we took the unique opportunity to compare the two datasets and analyzed the reasons for those incongruences. The two DNA sequence markers used (16S rDNA and CO1) were re-aligned using a strict conservative approach and the analyses used in both studies were repeated. Going step by step back to the first line of data handling, we show that a high number of unresolved characters in the sequence alignments as well as internal gaps are responsible for the different outcomes in terms of species delimitations and population genetic relationships. Overall, this study shows that high quality raw sequence data are an indispensable requirement, not only in odonate research.


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