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DNA metabarcoding reveals the dietary profiles of a benthic marine crustacean,Nephrops norvegicus

Shum, Peter; Wäge-Recchioni, Janine; Sellers, Graham S; Johnson, Magnus L; Joyce, Domino A.


Peter Shum

Janine Wäge-Recchioni

Graham S Sellers


Norwegian lobster, Nephrops norvegicus, are a generalist scavenger and predator capable of short foraging excursions but can also suspension feed. Existing knowledge about their diet relies on a combination of methods including morphology-based stomach content analysis and stable isotopes, which often lack the resolution to distinguish prey items to species level particularly in species that thoroughly masticate their prey. DNA metabarcoding overcomes many of the challenges associated with traditional methods and it is an attractive approach to study the dietary profiles of animals. Here, we present the diet of the commercially valuable Nephrops norvegicus using DNA metabarcoding of gut contents. Despite difficulties associated with host amplification, our cytochrome oxidase I (COI) molecular assay successfully achieves higher resolution information than traditional approaches. We detected taxa that were likely consumed during different feeding strategies. Dinoflagellata, Chlorophyta and Bacillariophyta accounted for almost 50% of the prey items consumed, and are associated with suspension feeding, while fish with high fisheries discard rates were detected which are linked to active foraging. In addition, we were able to characterise biodiversity patterns by considering Nephrops as natural samplers, as well as detecting parasitic dinoflagellates (e.g., Hematodinium sp.), which are known to influence burrow related behaviour in infected individuals in over 50% of the samples. The metabarcoding data presented here greatly enhances a better understanding of a species’ ecological role and could be applied as a routine procedure in future studies for proper consideration in the management and decision-making of fisheries.


Shum, P., Wäge-Recchioni, J., Sellers, G. S., Johnson, M. L., & Joyce, D. A. (in press). DNA metabarcoding reveals the dietary profiles of a benthic marine crustacean,Nephrops norvegicus. PLoS ONE, 18(11), Article e0289221.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 3, 2023
Online Publication Date Jan 3, 2023
Deposit Date Nov 1, 2023
Publicly Available Date Nov 2, 2023
Journal PLoS ONE
Print ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 11
Article Number e0289221
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Copyright Statement
Copyright: © 2023 Shum et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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