J Syst Evol ›› 2011, Vol. 49 ›› Issue (3): 182-188.DOI: 10.1111/j.1759-6831.2011.00135.x

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Are nuclear loci ideal for barcoding plants? A case study of genetic delimitation of two sister species using multiple loci and multiple intraspecific individuals

1Qian WANG 1,2Qiu-Shi YU 1Jian-Quan LIU*   

  1. 1(Molecular Ecology Group, Key Laboratory of Arid and Grassland Ecology, College of Life Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China)
    2(State Key Laboratory Breeding Base of Desertification and Aeolian Sand Disaster Combating, Gansu Desert Control Research Institute, Lanzhou 730070, China)
  • Received:2010-12-19 Published:2011-06-01

Abstract: Considerable debate remains as to which DNA region should be used to barcode plants. Several different chloroplast (cp) DNA regions (rbcL, matK, and trnH–psbA) and nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed regions (ITS) have been suggested as suitable barcodes in plants. Recently, low-copy nuclear loci were also suggested to be potentially ideal barcode regions. The aim of the present study was to test the effectiveness of these proposed DNA fragments and five additional low-copy loci (CHS, DET1, COP1, PGIC1, and RPS2; comprising both coding and non-coding regions) in barcoding closely related species. We examined the divergences within and between two species of Pugionium (Brassicaceae). We failed to find any interspecific variation from three cpDNA fragments with which to discriminate the two species. However, a single base mutation in the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) could discriminate between the two species consistently. We found more variations among all individuals of the two species using each of the other five low-copy nuclear loci. However, only alleles from one locus (DET1) of the five low-copy loci related to flowering regulations was able to distinguish the sampled individuals into two species. We failed to amplify the corresponding fragments out of Brassicaceae using the designed DET1 primers. We further discussed the discrimination power of different loci due to incomplete lineage sorting, gene flow, and species-specific evolution. Our results highlight the possibility of using the nuclear ITS as a core or complementary fragment to barcode recent diverged species.

Key words: chloroplast DNA, DNA barcoding, internal transcribed spacer (ITS), low-copy nuclear loci, Pugionium