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The ability to gather genetic information using DNA metabarcoding of bulk samples obtained directly from the environment is crucial to determine biodiversity baselines and understand population dynamics in the marine realm. While DNA metabarcoding is effective in evaluating biodiversity at community level, genetic patterns within species are often concealed in metabarcoding studies and overlooked for marine invertebrates. In the present study, we implement recently developed bioinformatics tools to investigate intraspecific genetic variability for invertebrate taxa in the Mediterranean Sea. Using metabarcoding samples from Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) deployed in three locations, we present haplotypes and diversity estimates for 145 unique species. While overall genetic diversity was low, we identified several species with high diversity records and potential cryptic lineages. Further, we emphasize the spatial scale of genetic variability, which was observed from locations to individual sampling units (ARMS). We carried out a population genetic analysis of several important yet understudied species, which highlights the current knowledge gap concerning intraspecific genetic patterns for the target taxa in the Mediterranean basin. Our approach considerably enhances biodiversity monitoring of charismatic and understudied Mediterranean species, which can be incorporated into ARMS surveys. © 2023 The Authors. Molecular Ecology Resources published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Anna Thomasdotter, Peter Shum, Francesco Mugnai, Marina Vingiani, Vincent Dubut, Florent Marschal, Marco Abbiati, Anne Chenuil, Federica Costantini. Spineless and overlooked: DNA metabarcoding of autonomous reef monitoring structures reveals intra- and interspecific genetic diversity in Mediterranean invertebrates. Molecular ecology resources. 2023 Oct;23(7):1689-1705

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PMID: 37452608

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