GAPeDNA: Assessing and mapping global species gaps in genetic databases for eDNA metabarcoding

Type Article
Acceptance Date 2021 IN PRESS
Language English
Author(s) Marques VirginieORCID1, 2, Milhau Tristan3, Albouy CamilleORCID4, Dejean Tony3, Manel Stéphanie2, Mouillot David1, 5, Juhel Jean‐baptisteORCID1, Dutta Trishna
Affiliation(s) 1 : MARBEC, Univ Montpellier CNRS Ifremer IRD Montpellier, France
2 : CEFE ,EPHE CNRS UM UPV IRD PSL Research University Montpellier ,France
3 : SPYGEN ,Le Bourget‐du‐Lac ,France
4 : IFREMER, Unité Ecologie et Modèles pour l’Halieutique Nantes cedex 3 Nantes, France
5 : Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies James Cook University Townsville Qld, Australia
Source Diversity and Distributions (1366-9516) (Wiley) In Press
DOI 10.1111/ddi.13142
Keyword(s) environmental DNA, genetic markers, IUCN, marine and freshwater fish, non‐indigenous species, reference database, shiny, threatened species


Environmental DNA metabarcoding has recently emerged as a non‐invasive tool for aquatic biodiversity inventories, frequently surpassing traditional methods for detecting a wide range of taxa in most habitats. The major limitation currently impairing the large‐scale application of eDNA‐based inventories is the lack of species sequences available in public genetic databases. Unfortunately, these gaps are still unknown spatially and taxonomically, hindering targeted future sequencing efforts.


We propose GAPeDNA, a user‐friendly web interface that provides a global overview of genetic database completeness for a given taxon across space and conservation status. As an application, we synthetized data from regional checklists for marine and freshwater fishes along with their IUCN conservation status to provide global maps of species coverage using the European Nucleotide Archive public reference database for 19 metabarcoding primers. This tool automatizes the scanning of gaps in these databases to guide future sequencing efforts and support the deployment of eDNA inventories at larger scale. This tool is flexible and can be expanded to other taxa and primers upon data availability.

Main conclusions

Using our global fish case study, we show that gaps increase towards the tropics where species diversity and the number of threatened species are the highest. It highlights priority areas for fish sequencing like the Congo, the Mekong and the Mississippi freshwater basins which host more than 60 non‐sequenced threatened fish species. For marine fishes, the Caribbean and East Africa host up to 42 non‐sequenced threatened species. By presenting the global genetic database completeness for several primers on any taxa and building an open‐access, updatable and flexible tool, GAPeDNA appears as a valuable contribution to support any kind of eDNA metabarcoding study.

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Marques Virginie, Milhau Tristan, Albouy Camille, Dejean Tony, Manel Stéphanie, Mouillot David, Juhel Jean‐baptiste, Dutta Trishna GAPeDNA: Assessing and mapping global species gaps in genetic databases for eDNA metabarcoding. Diversity and Distributions IN PRESS. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :