Uncovering trophic interactions in arthropod predators through DNA shotgun-sequencing of gut contents

Paula, Débora P. and Linard, Benjamin and Crampton-Platt, Alex and Srivathsan, Amrita and Timmermans, Martijn J. T. N. and Sujii, Edison R. and Pires, Carmen S. S. and Souza, Lucas M. and Andow, David A. and Vogler, Alfried P. (2016) Uncovering trophic interactions in arthropod predators through DNA shotgun-sequencing of gut contents. PLoS ONE, 11 (9). ISSN 1932-6203

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Characterizing trophic networks is fundamental to many questions in ecology, but this typically requires painstaking efforts, especially to identify the diet of small generalist predators. Several attempts have been devoted to develop suitable molecular tools to determine predatory trophic interactions through gut content analysis, and the challenge has been to achieve simultaneously high taxonomic breadth and resolution. General and practical methods are still needed, preferably independent of PCR amplification of barcodes, to recover a broader range of interactions. Here we applied shotgun-sequencing of the DNA from arthropod predator gut contents, extracted from four common coccinellid and dermapteran predators co-occurring in an agroecosystem in Brazil. By matching unassembled reads against six DNA reference databases obtained from public databases and newly assembled mitogenomes, and filtering for high overlap length and identity, we identified prey and other foreign DNA in the predator guts. Good taxonomic breadth and resolution was achieved (93% of prey identified to species or genus), but with low recovery of matching reads. Two to nine trophic interactions were found for these predators, some of which were only inferred by the presence of parasitoids and components of the microbiome known to be associated with aphid prey. Intraguild predation was also found, including among closely related ladybird species. Uncertainty arises from the lack of comprehensive reference databases and reliance on low numbers of matching reads accentuating the risk of false positives. We discuss caveats and some future prospects that could improve the use of direct DNA shotgun-sequencing to characterize arthropod trophic networks.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Article number = e0161841
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Natural Sciences
Item ID: 20527
Notes on copyright: Copyright: © 2016 Paula et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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Depositing User: Martijn Timmermans
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2016 10:20
Last Modified: 11 Sep 2018 01:15
URI: http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/20527

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