Evaluation of six candidate DNA barcode loci for identification of five important invasive grasses in eastern Australia

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Abstract

Invasive grass weeds reduce farm productivity, threaten biodiversity, and increase weed control costs. Identification of invasive grasses from native grasses has generally relied on the morphological examination of grass floral material. DNA barcoding may provide an alternative means to identify co-occurring native and invasive grasses, particularly during early growth stages when floral characters are unavailable for analysis. However, there are no universal loci available for grass barcoding. We herein evaluated the utility of six candidate loci (atpF intron, matK, ndhK-ndhC, psbE-petL, ETS and ITS) for barcode identification of several economically important invasive grass species frequently found among native grasses in eastern Australia. We evaluated these loci in 66 specimens representing five invasive grass species (Chloris gayana, Eragrostis curvula, Hyparrhenia hirta, Nassella neesiana, Nassella trichotoma) and seven native grass species. Our results indicated that, while no single locus can be universally used as a DNA barcode for distinguishing the grass species examined in this study, two plastid loci (atpF and matK) showed good distinguishing power to separate most of the taxa examined, and could be used as a dual locus to distinguish several of the invasive from the native species. Low PCR success rates were evidenced among two nuclear loci (ETS and ITS), and few species were amplified at these loci, however ETS was able to genetically distinguish the two important invasive Nassella species. Multiple loci analyses also suggested that ETS played a crucial role in allowing identification of the two Nassella species in the multiple loci combinations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0175338
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS One
Volume12
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2017

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