Pauropods (Pauropoda) of Austria – Update of the checklist and DNA-Barcoding of a little-known species group
The pauropods (Pauropoda) are a little-known and little-noticed class within the millipedes (Myriapoda), with two orders, ten families, about 40 genera, and about 780 species worldwide. All Pauropoda are tiny soil organisms (max. 2 mm) that feed, as far as is known, exclusively on fungal hyphae. Of the ten families of Pauropoda, only three, namely the Pauropodidae, Brachypauropodidae and Eurypauropodidae, with 36 species in 9 genera can be found in Austria. However, due to their small size and generally low abundance, only little is known about the native pauropods in Austria. Information on the occurrence and distribution of the species group dates mainly from the 1980s.
DNA barcoding, especially in combination with (eDNA-)metabarcoding approaches, is a promising method for the detection of species or for diversity surveys in general. However, the potential of these approaches depends on the quality of the underlying reference database. For this reason, the project aims to collect and identify as many Pauropoda species/individuals as possible, which will then be used to generate high quality reference DNA barcodes. Since the animals are too small to take tissue samples for standard DNA extractions, the DNA will be extracted non-destructively so that the individuals can still be used for classical taxonomic studies afterwards. Initial data already indicate interesting and unexpected patterns (e.g., potentially cryptic diversity). Thus, the project will not only provide important reference barcodes, but also exciting scientific insights into this little-noticed species group.
Stephan Koblmüller (University of Graz)
Christian Sturmbauer (University of Graz)
Project status: ongoing
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