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1.  MOTUs, Morphology, and Biodiversity Estimation: A Case Study Using Nematodes of the Suborder Criconematina and a Conserved 18S DNA Barcode 
Journal of Nematology  2011;43(1):35-48.
DNA barcodes are increasingly used to provide an estimate of biodiversity for small, cryptic organisms like nematodes. Nucleotide sequences generated by the barcoding process are often grouped, based on similarity, into molecular operational taxonomic units (MOTUs). In order to get a better understanding of the taxonomic resolution of a 3' 592-bp 18S rDNA barcode, we have analyzed 100 MOTUs generated from 214 specimens in the nematode suborder Criconematina. Previous research has demonstrated that the primer set for this barcode reliably amplifies all nematodes in the Phylum Nematoda. Included among the Criconematina specimens were 25 morphologically described species representing 12 genera. Using the most stringent definition of MOTU membership, where a single nucleotide difference is sufficient for the creation of a new MOTU, it was found that an MOTU can represent a subgroup of a species (e.g. Discocriconemella limitanea), a single species (Bakernema inaequale), or a species complex (MOTU 76). A maximum likelihood phylogenetic analysis of the MOTU dataset generated four major clades that were further analyzed by character-based barcode analysis. Fourteen of the 25 morphologically identified species had at least one putative diagnostic nucleotide identified by this character-based approach. These diagnostic nucleotides could be useful in biodiversity assessments when ambiguous results are encountered in database searches that use a distance-based metric for nucleotide sequence comparisons. Information and images regarding specimens examined during this study are available online.
PMCID: PMC3380479  PMID: 22791913
Criconematidae; DNA taxonomy; phylogeny; barcode analysis; plant parasitic nematodes; nematode diversity
2.  Morphological and Molecular Characterization of Discocriconemella inarata, an Endemic Nematode from North American Native Tallgrass Prairies 
Journal of Nematology  2010;42(1):35-45.
Discocriconemella inarata, a plant parasitic nematode species originally discovered in a virgin tallgrass prairie in northwest Iowa, was re-examined by molecular and morphological analyses of topotype material. This species has never been recorded in cultivated fields and could potentially serve as an indicator for high quality prairie habitats. DNA sequence from a conserved 3’ portion of the 18S ribosomal gene exhibited an identical match between D. inarata topotype specimens and topotype specimens of Mesocriconema xenoplax from Fresno, California. Higher resolution sequence analyses using the internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1) and a portion of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome b (cytb) allowed discrimination of D. inarata apart from M. xenoplax. This pair of species formed a well-supported clade with other Mesocriconema species exclusive of tropical Discocriconemella species. Scanning electron microscopy confirmed the absence of submedian lobes on D. inarata, suggesting a secondary loss of this defining morphological characteristic for Mesocriconema. Observations and measurements of D. inarata juveniles were added for the first time. Surveys of other prairies within the Great Plains expanded the known distribution of this species.
PMCID: PMC3380506  PMID: 22736835
Criconematidae Discocriconemella inarata; DNA taxonomy; endemic nematode; environmental indicator; native habitats; plant parasitic nematodes; ring nematodes; tallgrass prairie

Results 1-2 (2)