This report describes the methods and findings of the metagenetic analysis of plankton samples from the waters of Prince William Sound (PWS), Alaska. The study was done to identify zooplankton, in particular the larvae of invasive benthic species.
Plankton samples, collected by the Prince William Sound Science Center (PWSSC), were analyzed by the Molecular Ecology Laboratory at the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. The samples were taken from five stations in May of 2017 in Port Valdez and elsewhere in PWS.
DNA was extracted from bulk plankton and a portion of the mitochondrial Cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 gene, the most commonly used DNA barcode for animals, was amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Products of PCR were sequenced using Illumina reagents and MiSeq instrument. 211 operational taxonomic units (an approximation of biological species) were found and 52 were identified to species.
Most species were crustaceans and molluscs, and none were non-native. Researchers also compared PWSRCAC samples taken in 2016 to the current set of samples. Fewer species were identified in 2017 than in 2016, but sampling methods varied across years. Standardization of methods and a longer time series are necessary to investigate temporal trends.