London Calling 2023: Revolutionizing biodiversity research: Oxford Nanopore sequencing for the rapid and accurate identification of endangered species

The Neotropics have a high species richness and endemism; however, identifying its diversity is a formidable task. Traditionally, DNA sequencing and morphological characters have been used to recognize and describe species, but this approach is often challenging, requiring euthanizing individuals and the expertise of a taxonomist. Molecular data, such as mitochondrial DNA markers, have been used to identify species, but this method requires specific primers that are not always available for non-model organisms. Oxford Nanopore and the portable MinION sequencer allow on-site shotgun sequencing without the need for specific primers. This technology could provide a quick, accurate, and cost-efficient way of identifying and characterizing biodiversity, particularly in groups that lack diagnostic characters and in scenarios, such  as wildlife trafficking, where only incomplete specimens are available. By enabling researchers to identify species rapidly and accurately, Oxford Nanopore sequencing may revolutionize the field of biodiversity research, especially in institutions with limited budgets, such as universities and governmental entities in developing countries.

Authors: Mariana Corrales Orozco