Aquatic Insect Biodiversity and DNA Technology: Identifying Species with DNA Barcodes

Karl Kjer (Ecology, Evolution and Natural Sciences)

The DNA “barcoding” initiative is a major international research project that is dedicated to sequencing a small fragment of mitochondrial DNA from every animal species on earth. From these sequences, we can make accurate species identifications. For example, different species of caddis flies have specific temperature requirements and different tolerance to pollution. Therefore, studying species identification can track things like changes in water quality, as well as factors that contribute to global climate change. The class will travel to Stokes State Forest to collect aquatic insects, and these insect samples will be compared to those collected in the Rutgers Ecological preserve. We will extract DNA from these samples, amplify the DNA with PCR, and sequence them. These sequences will then be submitted to the BOLD (Barcode of Life Data Systems) website for identification, allowing us to link species diversity with water quality. You will learn a broad and interconnected set of skills, including insect biodiversity, DNA sequencing technology, and the link between human activity, and aquatic ecosystem health. (Students will need to attend one of the Rutgers Laboratory safety courses.)

Course Number: 
11:090:101 section 07 index 08176