Conserving the biodiversity of Kuwait through DNA barcoding the flora
Abdullah, Mansour Taleb
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Biodiversity across the globe is threatened. Rapid surveying and monitoring techniques are required to understand the origin of the threats to biodiversity and to enable conservation actions to be undertaken. Kuwait is an arid desert country with a small flora of only 402 species. This flora is endangered by environmental factors, overgrazing, and human activities. DNA barcoding the flora and using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies allowed us to identify plants to species level, conduct a molecular taxonomic revision, and distinguish plant diversity found in soil environmental DNA samples. After investigating the discriminatory power of five commonly used DNA markers from plastid (matK, rbcL, trnH-psbA, trnL) and a nuclear genome (ITS2) on four largest genera of the flora using phylogenetics reconstruction tree based methods, two barcoding markers (rbcL and ITS2) were assigned to build a DNA reference library of the flora. Furthermore, the DNA reference library was tested to identify the plant diversity found below-ground level and comparing it with that above-ground, using environmental soil samples collected from both species rich and poor habitats in Kuwait by applying high-throughput sequencing methods. The DNA database provided in this study could be used as a reference library for the identification process and contribute towards the future of molecular taxonomy, biodiversity and ecological research in Kuwait.