Integrating a comprehensive DNA barcode reference library with a global map of yews (Taxus L.) for forensic identification

Jie Liu, Richard I Milne, Michael Möller, Guang-Fu Zhu, Lin-Jiang Ye, Ya-Huang Luo, Jun-Bo Yang, Moses C Wambulwa, Chun-Neng Wang, De-Zhu Li, Lian-Ming Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Rapid and accurate identification of endangered species is a critical component of biosurveillance and conservation management, and potentially policing illegal trades. However, this is often not possible using traditional taxonomy, especially where only small or preprocessed parts of plants are available. Reliable identification can be achieved via a comprehensive DNA barcode reference library, accompanied by precise distribution data. However, these require extensive sampling at spatial and taxonomic scales, which has rarely been achieved for cosmopolitan taxa. Here, we construct a comprehensive DNA barcode reference library and generate distribution maps using species distribution modelling (SDM), for all 15 Taxus species worldwide. We find that trnL-trnF is the ideal barcode for Taxus: It can distinguish all Taxus species and in combination with ITS identify hybrids. Among five analysis methods tested, NJ was the most effective. Among 4,151 individuals screened for trnL-trnF, 73 haplotypes were detected, all species-specific and some population private. Taxonomical, geographical and genetic dimensions of sampling strategy were all found to affect the comprehensiveness of the resulting DNA barcode library. Maps from SDM showed that most species had allopatric distributions, except T. mairei in the Sino-Himalayan region. Using the barcode library and distribution map data, two unknown forensic samples were identified to species (and in one case, population) level and another was determined as a putative interspecific hybrid. This integrated species identification system for Taxus can be used for biosurveillance, conservation management and to monitor and prosecute illegal trade. Similar identification systems are recommended for other IUCN- and CITES-listed taxa.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalMolecular Ecology Resources
Early online date22 May 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 May 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • DNA barcoding
  • comprehensive sampling
  • forensic identification
  • geographical origin
  • sampling strategy
  • species distribution modelling


Dive into the research topics of 'Integrating a comprehensive DNA barcode reference library with a global map of yews (Taxus L.) for forensic identification'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this