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PLoS One. 2016 Jul 6;11(7):e0157307. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157307. eCollection 2016.

DNA Barcoding of Metazoan Zooplankton Copepods from South Korea.

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School of Life Sciences, Graduate School, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, South Korea.
Department of Biology, Teachers College & Institute for Phylogenomics and Evolution, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, South Korea.
Freshwater Biodiversity Research Division, Nakdonggang National Institute of Biological Resources, Sangju, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Republic of Korea.
Marine Ecosystem Research Division, Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology, Ansan, South Korea.
Biological Resources Research Department, National Institute of Biological Resources, Incheon, South Korea.
Department of Agricultural Biology, National Academy of Agricultural Science, Rural Development Administration, Jeonju, Republic of Korea.
Department of Biological Science, College of Natural Sciences, Daegu University, Gyeongsan, South Korea.
Department of Biology, Gangneung-Wonju National University, Gangneung, Gangwon-Do,South Korea.


Copepods, small aquatic crustaceans, are the most abundant metazoan zooplankton and outnumber every other group of multicellular animals on earth. In spite of ecological and biological importance in aquatic environment, their morphological plasticity, originated from their various lifestyles and their incomparable capacity to adapt to a variety of environments, has made the identification of species challenging, even for expert taxonomists. Molecular approaches to species identification have allowed rapid detection, discrimination, and identification of cryptic or sibling species based on DNA sequence data. We examined sequence variation of a partial mitochondrial cytochrome C oxidase I gene (COI) from 133 copepod individuals collected from the Korean Peninsula, in order to identify and discriminate 94 copepod species covering six copepod orders of Calanoida, Cyclopoida, Harpacticoida, Monstrilloida, Poecilostomatoida and Siphonostomatoida. The results showed that there exists a clear gap with ca. 20 fold difference between the averages of within-specific sequence divergence (2.42%) and that of between-specific sequence divergence (42.79%) in COI, suggesting the plausible utility of this gene in delimitating copepod species. The results showed, with the COI barcoding data among 94 copepod species, that a copepod species could be distinguished from the others very clearly, only with four exceptions as followings: Mesocyclops dissimilis-Mesocyclops pehpeiensis (0.26% K2P distance in percent) and Oithona davisae-Oithona similis (1.1%) in Cyclopoida, Ostrincola japonica-Pseudomyicola spinosus (1.5%) in Poecilostomatoida, and Hatschekia japonica-Caligus quadratus (5.2%) in Siphonostomatoida. Thus, it strongly indicated that COI may be a useful tool in identifying various copepod species and make an initial progress toward the construction of a comprehensive DNA barcode database for copepods inhabiting the Korean Peninsula.

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