Expanding the library, harmonizing protocols, involving stakeholders: GEANS is pushing forward
The sequence reference library (WP3) currently contains over 200 species, with each species being provided with tags (e.g. NIS, validated, problematic record, etc.) to facilitate curation. Many more species are in the process of sequencing or quality control and will be added to our BOLD dataset in the coming months!
The first GEANS article has been published within WP4: it reviews the recent methods used for metabarcoding (http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/mec.15592). A ring test was set-up to further harmonize metabarcoding protocols and to test repeatability and robustness. To this end, similar bulk samples from soft sediments have been sent around for partners to analyze. Sequencing has almost finished; data processing is on the menu for the coming months.
The pilots (WP5) are excellent cases to adopt the methods in the field and provide ‘proof of concept’. A network of ARMS (Autonomous Reef Monitoring System) to monitor hard substrates is spread over the North Sea region, and a paper promoting the network is currently being revised. Samples from the different case studies within the soft sediment pilot have been processed and new samples were taken. Sequencing went smoothly for some samples, but sequencing problems were encountered in others. Potential causes were discussed and solutions to test provided. In a third pilot, several partners are sampling for NIS (Non Indigenous Species) in harbors. In the past months, sampling mainly targeted zooplankton.
Bringing DNA based monitoring to the stakeholders, that is our ultimate goal within GEANS. Most of our pilots are therefore running in close contact with stakeholders. In order to further engage and consult a wide stakeholder public, a questionnaire has been designed to even better take stock of the needs and wishes of our target group. Coming soon, so keep an eye out!