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Barcoding the Neotropical freshwater fish fauna using a new pair of universal COI primers with a discussion of primer dimers and M13 primer tails

Jennings, W. Bryan, Ruschi, Piero A., Ferraro, Gustavo, Quijada, Carla Christie, Silva-Malanski, Ana Cecilia Gomes, Prosdocimi, Francisco, Buckup, Paulo A.
Genome 2019 v.62 no.2 pp. 77-83
Cichliformes, Cyprinodontiformes, DNA barcoding, DNA primers, Gymnotiformes, Neotropics, Siluriformes, cytochrome-c oxidase, data quality, fauna, freshwater fish, mitochondria, tropical fish, South America
Designing primers for DNA barcoding is a significant challenge for the rich Neotropical fish fauna, which is comprised of ∼6000 species. Previously, researchers required multiple pairs of PCR primers or primer cocktails to obtain standard COI (i.e., mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I) barcode sequences from assemblages of freshwater fish in this region. To simplify DNA barcoding and metabarcoding studies of Neotropical freshwater fish, we present a new pair of COI primers, which have yielded high quality barcodes across six teleost orders—Characiformes, Cichliformes, Cyprinodontiformes, Gymnotiformes, Siluriformes, and Synbranchiformes—native to South America. Following previous fish barcoding studies, we also tailed our primers with M13 forward and reverse primers to facilitate the DNA sequencing process. Although this practice generates primer dimers, we obtained complete and high quality COI barcode sequences for all samples. We discuss the problem of primer dimers and suggest strategies for neutralizing their influence on data quality.