First evaluation of foraminiferal metabarcoding for monitoring environmental impact from an offshore oil drilling site

Olivier Laroche, Susanna A. Wood, Louis A. Tremblay, Joanne Ellis, Franck Lejzerowicz, Jan Pawlowski, Gavin Lear, Javier Atalah, Xavier Pochon

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67 Scopus citations


At present, environmental impacts from offshore oil and gas activities are partly determined by measuring changes in macrofauna diversity. Morphological identification of macrofauna is time-consuming, expensive and dependent on taxonomic expertise. In this study, we evaluated the applicability of using foraminiferal-specific metabarcoding for routine monitoring. Sediment samples were collected along distance gradients from two oil platforms off Taranaki (New Zealand) and their physicochemical properties, foraminiferal environmental DNA/RNA, and macrofaunal composition analyzed. Macrofaunal and foraminiferal assemblages showed similar shifts along impact gradients, but responded differently to environmental perturbations. Macrofauna were affected by hypoxia, whereas sediment grain size appeared to drive shifts in foraminifera. We identified eight foraminiferal molecular operational taxonomic units that have potential to be used as bioindicator taxa. Our results show that metabarcoding represents an effective tool for assessing foraminiferal communities near offshore oil and gas platforms, and that it can be used to complement current monitoring techniques. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-235
Number of pages11
JournalMarine Environmental Research
StatePublished - Aug 29 2016

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We would like to express our gratitude to Resource and Environmental Management Ltd (Nelson, NZ) and Simon Knapman from AWE Ltd for providing the samples and for in-kind support. We also thank Olivia Johnston for valuable discussions around the Cawthron-produced Taranaki Environmental Monitoring Protocol (OTEMP). This research was co-funded by the Cawthron Institute Internal Investment Fund (IIF #15955) and the


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