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Towards a molecular taxonomy for protists: benefits, risks, and applications in plankton ecology

, : Towards a molecular taxonomy for protists: benefits, risks, and applications in plankton ecology. Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology 60(4): 407-413

The increasing use of genetic information for the development of methods to study the diversity, distributions and activities of protists in nature has spawned a new generation of powerful tools. For ecologists, one lure of these approaches lies in the potential for DNA sequences to provide the only immediately obvious means of normalizing the diverse criteria that presently exist for identifying and counting protists. A single, molecular taxonomy would allow studies of diversity across a broad range of species, as well as the detection and quantification of particular species of interest within complex, natural assemblages; goals that are not feasible using traditional methods. However, these advantages are not without their potential pitfalls and problems. Conflicts involving the species concept, disagreements over the true (physiological/ecological) meaning of genetic diversity, and a perceived threat by some that sequence information will displace knowledge regarding the morphologies, functions and physiologies of protistan taxa, have created debate and doubt regarding the efficacy and appropriateness of some genetic approaches. These concerns need continued discussion and eventual resolution as we move towards the irresistible attraction, and potentially enormous benefits, of the application of genetic approaches to protistan ecology.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


PMID: 23672341

DOI: 10.1111/jeu.12044

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