DNA barcoding of Austrian pill-millipedes (Glomerida: Myriapoda)
Glomerida or pill millipedes (Diplopoda, Myripaoda) are known for their sophisticated defense behaviour: they roll into a perfectly closed ball, with subsequent excude defensive secretions. Many species are conspicuously drawn in different colours. This diversity has led to a large number of descriptions of subspecies and varieties with questionable status. For Austria, 20 species and several varieties had been described, which makes it a perfect set for testing DNA barcoding for species differentiation.
The study is an interdisciplinary taxonomic project within the ABOL initiative, in which individuals are prepared for DNA barcoding using a non-destructive DNA extraction (NDE). With this procedure the exoskeleton remains intact and is used for morphological determination. In addition, defensive secretions are analysed for their chemical composition.
In the course of the project, a specific primer cocktail was established which allows the DNA barcoding of glomerids. Until now, a total of 145 barcodes of 11 native pill millipedes species were created. Clusters based on COI were additionally confirmed with 28S sequences. Furthermore, it could be shown that the chemical composition of the secretions shows a species-specific combination of alkaloids. This combined approach for the identification of pill millipedes is an important contribution to stabilize the complex systematics of this group and the basis to discover further fascinating details.
Add-on project of the FWF-Projects 23251-B17: The most ancient splits in insect phylogeny: Relationships among primarily wingless hexapods