Environmental DNA reveals a multi-taxa biogeographic break across the Arabian Sea and Sea of Oman

Joseph DiBattista, Michael L. Berumen, Mark A. Priest, Maarten De Brauwer, Darren James Coker, Tane H. Sinclair-Taylor, Amanda Hay, Gerd Bruss, Shawky Mansour, Michael Bunce, Christopher H. R. Goatley, Matthew Power, Alyssa Marshell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Environmental DNA (eDNA) is increasingly being used to assess community composition in marine ecosystems. Applying eDNA approaches across broad spatial scales now provide the potential to inform biogeographic analyses. However, to date, few studies have employed this technique to assess broad biogeographic patterns across multiple taxonomic groups. Here, we compare eDNA-derived communities of bony fishes and invertebrates, including corals and sponges, from 15 locations spanning the entire length of the Omani coast. This survey includes a variety of habitats, including coral and rocky reefs, and covers three distinct marine ecoregions. Our data support a known biogeographic break in fish communities between the north and the south of Oman; however, the eDNA data highlight that this faunal break is mostly reflected in schooling baitfish species (e.g., sardines and anchovies), whereas reef-associated fish communities appear more homogeneous along this coastline. Furthermore, our data provide indications that these biogeographic breaks also affect invertebrate communities, which includes corals, sponges, and broader eukaryotic groups. The observed community shifts were correlated with local environmental and anthropogenic differences characteristic of this coastline, particularly for the eDNA-derived bony fish communities. Overall, this study provides compelling support that eDNA sequencing and associated analyses may serve as powerful tools to detect community differences across biogeographic breaks and ecoregions, particularly in places where there is significant variation in oceanographic conditions or anthropogenic impacts.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-221
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental DNA
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 20 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-12-13
Acknowledgements: This research was supported by a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Council of Australian-Arab Relations (CAAR) grant to JDD, AH, MB, and AM, ARC Linkage Projects (LP160100839 and LP160101508) to JDD and MB, a Curtin University Early Career Research Fellowship (ECRF) to JDD, His Majesty’s Trust Fund Strategic Research Grant (SR/AGR/FISH/18/01) to AM, and baseline research funds from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) to MLB. For logistical support in Oman, we kindly thank the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (collection permit number 6210/10/47), Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Wealth, Extra-Divers in Mirbat, and Ras Musandam Diver in Khasab, particularly Ali Hamed Saleh Al-Shaaili. The authors would also like to acknowledge staff and students of the TrEnD Laboratory, particularly Megan Coghlan and Adam Koziol, for DNA sequencing assistance; staff at eDNA Frontiers, particularly Rose Lines, Georgia Peverley, Tina Berry, and Shane Herbert, for DNA sequencing assistance; Adam Koziol and Katrina West for development of the CP1 and CP2 assays; Mahsa Mousavi Mousaviderazmahalleh and Georgia Nester for bioinformatic assistance; and Hugo Harrison for R scripting advice. This work was also supported by resources provided by the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre with funding from the Australian Government and the Government of Western Australia.


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