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DNA barcoding of freshwater macroinvertebrates: a workshop hosted by MDFRC


On October 30th 2014, The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre hosted a DNA Barcoding workshop at the Melbourne Airport. The workshop brought together people working on freshwater macroinvertebrates to discuss DNA barcoding of Australia’s macroinvertebrate fauna. Seventeen delegates attended and expertise ranged from professionals in water management, biological monitoring, taxonomy, genetics, and ecology. Representatives were present from the following organisations: La Trobe University; Melbourne University; the University of Canberra; the Environment Protection Authority, Victoria; GHD; Melbourne Water; NSW Office of Water; Department of Primary Industries, Victoria; Murray Darling Basin Authority; and The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre.

A number of positive recommendations arose from the meeting including:

1)      Establish a national database to house macroinvertebrate DNA barcode data. It is widely recognised that DNA barcodes offer a unique, cost effective way to monitor the presence of species in an environment and that DNA techniques would be particularly useful for river biological monitoring projects. However, a lack of reference DNA barcodes for the Australian fauna greatly limits the application of these techniques. 

2)      Establish a steering committee to oversee the development of the database and future direction of the group.

3)       Publication of a short perspective peice in a suitable journal, detailing the decisions from the DNA workshop.

4)      Compilation of a list of delegates indicating their taxonomic areas of expertise, with the aim of providing this information to other delegates. It was noted that many of the delegates collected material that was considered as by-catch. This list enables delegates to pass their by-catch onto other delegates who will make use of this material.

5)      Future collaborationin order to pursue future funding opportunities such as linkage grants. .

The DNA Workshop facilitated the first steps in organising a national group committed to developing a DNA database for freshwater macroinvertebrates. The development of such a database would be an invaluable tool for those researching freshwater ecosystems and is likely to become a highly used resource. The group is planning to meet on an annual basis at an event such as the Australian Society for Limnology annual conference.


For more information contact Dr Michael Shackleton at MDFRC