Metabarcoding analysis on European coastal samples reveals new molecular metazoan diversity

David López-Escardó, Jordi Paps, Colomban De Vargas, Ramon Massana, Iñaki Ruiz-Trillo*, Javier Del Campo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
196 Downloads (Pure)


Although animals are among the best studied organisms, we still lack a full description of their diversity, especially for microscopic taxa. This is partly due to the time-consuming and costly nature of surveying animal diversity through morphological and molecular studies of individual taxa. A powerful alternative is the use of high-throughput environmental sequencing, providing molecular data from all organisms sampled. We here address the unknown diversity of animal phyla in marine environments using an extensive dataset designed to assess eukaryotic ribosomal diversity among European coastal locations. A multi-phylum assessment of marine animal diversity that includes water column and sediments, oxic and anoxic environments, and both DNA and RNA templates, revealed a high percentage of novel 18S rRNA sequences in most phyla, suggesting that marine environments have not yet been fully sampled at a molecular level. This novelty is especially high among Platyhelminthes, Acoelomorpha, and Nematoda, which are well studied from a morphological perspective and abundant in benthic environments. We also identified, based on molecular data, a potentially novel group of widespread tunicates. Moreover, we recovered a high number of reads for Ctenophora and Cnidaria in the smaller fractions suggesting their gametes might play a greater ecological role than previously suspected.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9106 (2018)
Number of pages14
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2018


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