Meganck, K., Smitz, N., Gombeer, S., Van Bourgonie, YR., Backeljau, T. & De Meyer, M. 2019. ‘DNA barcoding to identify invasive alien species targeted by EU policies’. 8th International Barcode of Life Conference. Book of abstracts. 408. DOI: 10.1139/gen-2016-0195.
Background: The introduction of invasive alien species (IAS), whether by accident or deliberately, can have serious negative consequences in their new territory when they manage to establish viable populations. Their presence can disrupt natural and managed ecosystems, leading to biodiversity loss; affect crops and livestock; and might introduce vector-borne diseases or parasites, impacting human health. In order to protect the European native biodiversity and ecosystems, and to mitigate the potential impact on human health and socio-economic activities, the issue of IAS is addressed in EU Regulation 1143/2014. The IAS Regulation currently gives priority to 49 species and is enforced across all member states. In order to implement the proposed actions, however, methods for accurate species identification are required when suspicious biological material is encountered. Because morphology-based species identifications are not always possible (e.g., cryptic species, trace material, early life-stages), the Barcoding Facility of Organisms and Tissues of Policy Concern (BopCo) investigated and evaluated the usefulness of DNA sequences to identify each of the 49 IAS of EU Concern. Results: For each IAS in the EU regulation, BopCo produced a factsheet, giving identification advice based on the publicly available DNA sequence data and various other sources. Each factsheet contains information on species taxonomyand current distribution in Europe, as well as a discussion on the usefulness of publicly available DNA sequences to identify samples to the taxonomic level stated in the EU list. Issues preventing a reliable identification are defined and discussed too. Significance: This project aims to provide an evaluation of the usefulness of DNA sequence data available for accurate identification of the 49 IAS of Union Concern, as well as identify the data gaps in the DNA reference databases. A future perspective to the project is to then fill these gaps, where possible, with new sequence data.