Barcoding African river-weeds
Scientists from Kew and the University of Ghana have tested the DNA barcode in a study of African river-weeds (Podostemaceae).
11 Feb 2011
Wli waterfall in the Volta Region of Ghana, from where the river weed Saxicolella agumatsa was collected for a DNA barcoding study (Image: Gabriel K. Ameka).
Podostemaceae (river-weeds) are the largest family of strictly aquatic flowering plants. They resemble algae or mosses and can be extremely difficult to identify on the basis of morphological characters alone.
DNA barcoding, the use of a short standardized DNA region(s) as a species identification tool, could have great potential use in aiding identification of these plants. Researchers from Kew and the University of Ghana have tested the utility of several previously proposed DNA barcode regions in African members of Podostemaceae.
The study revealed that a portion of the plastid gene matK can be used to successfully discriminate between different species of African Podostemaceae. It also highlighted the presence of significant intraspecific genetic diversity within the species Tristicha trifaria (including a distinct cluster of individuals from Cameroon), which may indicate that more than a single species should be recognised within this widespread taxon.
Item from Dr Laura Kelly (Geneticist/Bioinformaticist, RBG Kew)
Originally published in Kew Scientist, issue 37
Kelly, L.J., Ameka, G.K. & Chase, M.W. (2010), DNA barcoding of African Podostemaceae (river-weeds): A test of proposed barcode regions. Taxon 59: 251–260.
Scientific Research & Data
- Kew in-depth - DNA barcoding
- Science project - Establishing a standard DNA barcode for land plants
- Kew news - Standard DNA barcode announced
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