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Enhanced primers for amplification of DNA barcodes from a broad range of marine metazoans

Jorge Lobo12*, Pedro M Costa1, Marcos AL Teixeira2, Maria SG Ferreira2, Maria H Costa1 and Filipe O Costa2

Author Affiliations

1 IMAR-Instituto do Mar, Departamento de Ciências e Engenharia do Ambiente, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2829-516 Monte de Caparica, Portugal

2 CBMA-Centro de Biologia Molecular e Ambiental, Departamento de Biologia, Universidade do Minho, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal

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BMC Ecology 2013, 13:34  doi:10.1186/1472-6785-13-34

Published: 10 September 2013



Building reference libraries of DNA barcodes is relatively straightforward when specifically designed primers are available to amplify the COI-5P region from a relatively narrow taxonomic group (e.g. single class or single order). DNA barcoding marine communities have been comparatively harder to accomplish due to the broad taxonomic diversity and lack of consistently efficient primers. Although some of the so-called “universal” primers have been relatively successful, they still fail to amplify COI-5P of many marine animal groups, while displaying random success even among species within each group. Here we propose a new pair of primers designed to enhance amplification of the COI-5P region in a wide range of marine organisms.


Amplification tests conducted on a wide range of marine animal taxa, rendered possible the first–time sequencing of DNA barcodes from eight separated phyla (Annelida, Arthropoda, Chordata, Cnidaria, Echinodermata, Mollusca, Nemertea and Platyhelminthes), comprising a total of 14 classes, 28 orders, 57 families, 68 genus and 76 species.


These primers demonstrated to be highly cost-effective, which is of key importance for DNA barcoding procedures, such as for building comprehensive DNA barcode libraries of marine communities, where the processing of a large numbers of specimens from a wide variety of marine taxa is compulsory.

Universal primers; DNA barcoding; Taxonomy; Marine metazoans