Biodiv Sci ›› 2011, Vol. 19 ›› Issue (6): 805-814.  DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2011.10173

Special Issue: 中国的海洋生物多样性

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DNA barcoding and its application to marine zooplankton ecology

Chaolun Li1,*(), Minxiao Wang1, Fangping Cheng1,2, Song Sun1,3   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Marine Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao, Shandong 266071
    2 Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    3 Jiaozhou Bay Marine Ecosystem Research Station, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao, Shandong 266071
  • Received:2011-09-30 Accepted:2011-11-16 Online:2011-11-20 Published:2011-12-19
  • Contact: Chaolun Li


As the main components of marine biota, zooplankton play vital roles in the marine biodiversity, trophic relationships and ecosystem dynamics. However, morphological identification of zooplankton is time-consuming and even impossible for some taxa, especially for pelagic larvae. Diversity of marine zooplankton is believed to be underestimated. DNA Barcodes (short DNA sequences for species recognition and discrimination) provide powerful tools for rapid species identification and are quickly applied in marine zooplankton ecological researches. Here we give a general introduction on the concept, advantages, and limitations of DNA barcoding. We review the multiple applications of DNA barcodes (mainly focused on the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (mtCOI) gene) in the marine zooplankton ecological researches, which include rapid species identification, cryptic species reveal, trophic relationship analysis, invasive species monitoring, historical range expansion, population genetic and biogeographic analysis. We anticipate that DNA barcoding techniques will be increasingly used by marine ecologists. With the DNA barcode reference libraries completing and new high-throughput tools such as next generation sequencing developing, DNA barcoding will provides more information that, not only for species identification and discovery, but also help to improve our understanding of zooplankton biodiversity and their functions in marine ecosystems.

Key words: DNA barcoding, mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (mtCOI)gene, species identification, marine zooplankton ecology