DNA Barcoding of Recently Diverged Species: Relative Performance of Matching Methods

R. van Velzen, E. Weitschek, G. Felici, F.T. Bakker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

112 Citations (Scopus)


Recently diverged species are challenging for identification, yet they are frequently of special interest scientifically as well as from a regulatory perspective. DNA barcoding has proven instrumental in species identification, especially in insects and vertebrates, but for the identification of recently diverged species it has been reported to be problematic in some cases. Problems are mostly due to incomplete lineage sorting or simply lack of a ‘barcode gap’ and probably related to large effective population size and/or low mutation rate. Our objective was to compare six methods in their ability to correctly identify recently diverged species with DNA barcodes: neighbor joining and parsimony (both tree-based), nearest neighbor and BLAST (similarity-based), and the diagnostic methods DNA-BAR, and BLOG. We analyzed simulated data assuming three different effective population sizes as well as three selected empirical data sets from published studies. Results show, as expected, that success rates are significantly lower for recently diverged species (~75%) than for older species (~97%) (P
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere30490
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • mitochondrial-dna
  • phylogenetic trees
  • molecular markers
  • sequence data
  • identification
  • diptera
  • fish
  • diversity
  • selection
  • taxonomy

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