Environmental DNA identifies marine macrophyte contributions to Blue Carbon sediments

Alejandra Ortega, Nathan Geraldi, Carlos M. Duarte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Estimation of marine macrophyte contribution to coastal sediments is key to understand carbon sequestration dynamics. Nevertheless, identification of macrophyte carbon is challenging. We propose environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding as a new approach for identification of sediment contributors, and compared this approach against stable isotopes—the traditional approach. eDNA metabarcoding allowed high-resolution identification of 48 macroalgae, seagrasses, and mangroves from coastal habitats. The relative eDNA contributions of macrophytes were similar to their contributions of organic carbon based on stable isotopes; however, isotopes were unreliable for taxonomical discrimination among macrophyte sources. Additionally, we experimentally found that eDNA abundance in the sediment correlates with both the DNA (84%, R2 = 0.71, p = 0.001) and the organic carbon content (76%, R2 = 0.58, p = 0.006) per macrophyte lineage. These results demonstrate the unparallel resolution of eDNA as a method for estimation of the organic carbon contribution of marine macrophytes to blue carbon stocks.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLimnology and Oceanography
StatePublished - Aug 31 2020

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This research was funded by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology through baseline funding provided to CMD. We thank CMOR staff, R/V Thuwal crew, Andrea Anton, and members of CMD research group for help during sampling. We also thank Rubén Díaz-Rúa and Wajitha J. Raja Mohamed Sait for their help in sample processing.


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