Real-time PCR assay for detection and relative quantification of Liocarcinus depurator larvae from plankton samples

Maria Pan, Alastair J. A. McBeath, Steve J. Hay, Graham J. Pierce, Carey O. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Citations (Scopus)


Accurate species identification of decapod crustacean larvae is required to understand their population distributions, life cycle dynamics and interactions with their habitats. Analysis of plankton samples using morphological taxonomic methods and microscopy is time-consuming, requires highly skilled and trained operatives and may often be inaccurate. As complementary tools to classical identification methods, recent work has focused on the development of molecular approaches and shows their feasibility for species-specific identification. This study has developed real-time PCR assays utilising species-specific Taqman(R) probes designed in the cytochrome oxidase I (COI) gene of Liocarcinus depurator, Necora puber, Carcinus maenas and Cancer pagurus. Our study then employed the probe and primers designed for L. depurator to obtain accurate identification and relative abundance estimates of L. depurator larvae in plankton samples collected between March 2005 and October 2006. Ranges of larval abundances were derived from a standard curve created from plankton samples spiked with a known number of larvae reared in the laboratory. Inhibition of the PCR reaction was shown to be an important factor and our results suggested that 0.1 ng of DNA as template provided accurate identification and avoided inhibition. Real-time PCR was shown to provide accurate species identification on unsorted plankton samples and could be suitable for the estimation of larval abundances in the plankton, although more work must be done to improve the accuracy of those estimations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)859-870
Number of pages12
JournalMarine Biology
Issue number5
Early online date7 Nov 2007
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008


  • gadus-morhua-L.
  • melanogrammus-aeglefinus L.
  • melangus-merlangus L.
  • species-specific PCR
  • simultaneous identification
  • sea
  • technology
  • portunidae
  • abundance
  • brachyura


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