University of Tasmania

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A practical guide to DNA metabarcoding for entomological ecologists

1. DNA metabarcoding is a cost‐effective species identification approach with great potential to assist entomological ecologists. This review presents a practical guide to help entomological ecologists design their own DNA metabarcoding studies and ensure that sound ecological conclusions can be obtained.

2. The review considers approaches to field sampling, laboratory work, and bioinformatic analyses, with the aim of providing the background knowledge needed to make decisions at each step of a DNA metabarcoding workflow.

3. Although most conventional sampling methods can be adapted to DNA metabarcoding, this review highlights techniques that will ensure suitable DNA preservation during field sampling and laboratory storage. The review also calls for a greater understanding of the occurrence, transportation, and deposition of environmental DNA when applying DNA metabarcoding approaches for different ecosystems.

4. Accurate species detection with DNA metabarcoding needs to consider biases introduced during DNA extraction and PCR amplification, cross‐contamination resulting from inappropriate amplicon library preparation, and downstream bioinformatic analyses. Quantifying species abundance with DNA metabarcoding is in its infancy, yet recent studies demonstrate promise for estimating relative species abundance from DNA sequencing reads.

5. Given that bioinformatics is one of the biggest hurdles for researchers new to DNA metabarcoding, several useful graphical user interface programs are recommended for sequence data processing, and the application of emerging sequencing technologies is discussed.


Publication title

Ecological Entomology








School of Natural Sciences


Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Place of publication

9600 Garsington Rd, Oxford, England, Oxon, Ox4 2Dg

Rights statement

Copyright 2019 The Royal Entomological Society

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Terrestrial biodiversity