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Understanding and mitigating errors and biases in metabarcoding: an introduction for non-specialists 2022


DNA metabarcoding is a potentially powerful tool for increasing the breadth and efficiency of monitoring carried out by environmental public bodies. However, methods and data interpretation require specialist skills. This has consequences for implementation, including (i) potentially suitable methods may be adopted more slowly due to lack of confident in results or difficulty in interpretation and/or (ii) unsuitable methods may be used, due to lack of awareness of potential limitations.

To support non-experts in making more informed judgments on the development and interpretation of metabarcoding, this report outlines potential errors and biases that can occur, and how these can influence results. The following aspects of metabarcoding are covered: Contamination (excluding during initial collection in the field), Degradation, PCR Amplification, Sequencing, and Bioinformatics. The report also explains other reasons why results can differ between metabarcoding results and other methods.

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Resource type Publication

Topic category Environment

Reference date 2022·04·04

Preston, M., Fritzsche, M. & Woodcock, P. 2022. Understanding and mitigating errors and biases in metabarcoding: an introduction for non-specialists. JNCC Report No. 699, JNCC, Peterborough, ISSN 0963-8091.

This project was led and funded by the Defra DNA Centre of Excellence.

Responsible organisation
Communications, JNCC publisher

Limitations on public access No limitations

Use constraints Available under the Open Government Licence 3.0

Metadata date 2022·04·08

Metadata point of contact
Communications, JNCC

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