A DNA barcode library for North American ephemeroptera: Progress and prospects

Jeffrey M. Webb, Luke M. Jacobus, David H. Funk, Xin Zhou, Boris Kondratieff, Christy J. Geraci, R. Edward DeWalt, Donald J. Baird, Barton Richard, Iain Phillips, Paul D.N. Hebert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


DNA barcoding of aquatic macroinvertebrates holds much promise as a tool for taxonomic research and for providing the reliable identifications needed for water quality assessment programs. A prerequisite for identification using barcodes is a reliable reference library. We gathered 4165 sequences from the barcode region of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene representing 264 nominal and 90 provisional species of mayflies (Insecta: Ephemeroptera) from Canada, Mexico, and the United States. No species shared barcode sequences and all can be identified with barcodes with the possible exception of some Caenis. Minimum interspecific distances ranged from 0.3-24.7% (mean: 12.5%), while the average intraspecific divergence was 1.97%. The latter value was inflated by the presence of very high divergences in some taxa. In fact, nearly 20% of the species included two or three haplotype clusters showing greater than 5.0% sequence divergence and some values are as high as 26.7%. Many of the species with high divergences are polyphyletic and likely represent species complexes. Indeed, many of these polyphyletic species have numerous synonyms and individuals in some barcode clusters show morphological attributes characteristic of the synonymized species. In light of our findings, it is imperative that type or topotype specimens be sequenced to correctly associate barcode clusters with morphological species concepts and to determine the status of currently synonymized species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere38063
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 30 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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