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Exploring the capacity of aquatic biofilms to act as environmental DNA samplers: Test on macroinvertebrate communities in rivers

Abstract : Aquatic biofilms are heterogeneous assemblages of microorganisms surrounded by a matrix of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). Recent studies suggest that aquatic biofilms can physically act as sorptive sponges of DNA. We took the opportunity from already available samples of stone biofilms and macroinvertebrates specimens collected in parallel at the same sites to test the capacity of biofilms to act as DNA samplers of macroinvertebrate communities in streams. Macroinvertebrate communities are usually studied with metabarcoding using the DNA extracted from their bodies bulk samples, which remains a time-consuming approach and involves the destruction of all individual specimens from the samples. The ability of biofilms to capture DNA was explored on 19 rivers sites of a tropical island (Mayotte Island, France). First, macroinvertebrate specimens were identified based on their morphological characteristics. Second, DNA was extracted from biofilms, and macroinvertebrate communities were targeted using a standard COI barcode. The resulting morphological and molecular inventories were compared. They provided comparable structures and diversities for macroinvertebrate communities when one is working with the unassigned OTU data. After taxonomic assignment of the OTU data, diversity and richness were no longer correlated. The ecological assessment derived from morphological bulk samples was conserved by the biofilms samples. We also showed that the biofilm method allows to detect a higher diversity for some organisms (Cnidaria), that is hardly accessible with the morphological method. The results of this study exploring the DNA signal captured by natural biofilms are encouraging. However, a more detailed study integrating more replicates and comparing the biodiversity signal based on both morphological and molecular bulk macroinvertebrate samples to the one captured by biofilms will be necessary. Better understanding how the DNA signal captured by natural biofilms represents the biodiversity of a given sampling site is necessary before considering its use for bioassessment applications.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-03103971
Contributor : Sabine Rossi <>
Submitted on : Friday, January 8, 2021 - 3:13:57 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, March 4, 2021 - 8:50:02 AM

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Sinziana Rivera, Valentin Vasselon, Nathalie Mary, Olivier Monnier, Fréderic Rimet, et al.. Exploring the capacity of aquatic biofilms to act as environmental DNA samplers: Test on macroinvertebrate communities in rivers. Science of the Total Environment, Elsevier, 2021, 763, pp.144208. ⟨10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144208⟩. ⟨hal-03103971⟩

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