DOI: 10.1007/s10144-014-0472-z

High-throughput DNA barcoding for ecological network studies

1. Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan

Correspondence to:
Hirokazu Toju
Email: toju.hirokazu.4c@kyoto-u.ac.jp

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Abstract

The network theoretical framework of ecological community studies is expected to promote not only the basic understanding of ecological and coevolutionary dynamics but also the application of those scientific insights into ecosystem management. However, our knowledge of ecological network architecture in the wild largely stems from empirical studies on macro-organismal systems such as those of plant–pollinator, plant–seed disperser, and prey–predator interactions. In this sense, we have remained ignorant of the diversity of ecological network architecture, its underlying assembly processes, and its consequences on ecological and coevolutionary dynamics. In this paper, I discuss how the high-throughput DNA barcoding of microbes, especially that based on next-generation sequencing, potentially expands the target of ecological network studies. I review the methodological platforms of next-generation sequencing-based analyses of microbe–host animal/plant networks and then introduce some case studies on the networks of plants and their hyper-diverse fungal symbionts. As those preliminary studies are uncovering the unexpected diversity of ecological network architecture, further application of such next-generation sequencing-based analyses to a diverse array of microbial systems will significantly improve our views on community ecological and coevolutionary processes.

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