Meso- and macrozooplankton play crucial roles in the trophic web and the biological carbon pump in the ocean by transferring energy from lower to higher trophic levels and vertically exporting carbon from the surface to the deep ocean and seabed. In this study, zooplankton community structures in the Ross Sea, Antarctica, were analyzed using metabarcoding methods. Both regular barcode (RB) (using a PacBio Sequel system) and mini barcode (MB) (using the Illumina MiSeq platform) methods were utilized. As the result of a combination of the two bioinformatic pipelines used in the RB, 55 reliable haplotypes were obtained from the pooled zooplankton net samples, whereas 183 amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) were isolated from the MB metabarcoding analyses of 14 individual stations. Among these, 39 (70.9%) and 125 (90.6%) showed higher than 99% sequence identity to the database, indicating that there were sufficient reference sequences to employ metabarcoding analysis—except for several taxa, including small-sized copepods, cnidarians, and pneumodermatids. A high degree of shared taxa showed that both metabarcoding analyses were feasible for use in the analysis of zooplankton assemblages in the Ross Sea. However, RB would be more useful for the construction of a reference database due to its relatively high cost, whereas MB would be more economic for ecological surveys due to its relatively low cost (albeit, only if reference sequences were well documented using RB). Zooplankton assemblages were highly diverse in each sample site, presumably due to the narrow covered volumes of the vertical net-towed samples from polynyas in the Ross Sea. As metabarcoding data accumulate, we will gain better insights into zooplankton communities and their ecological implications in the Ross Sea.
Dr Jeong-Hoon Kim (Korea, Republic of)
Dr Doo Nam Kim (Korea, Republic of)
Genes, 2022, 13 (5): 922. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes13050922