COI-based barcoding of Chinese vipers (Reptilia: Squamata: Viperidae)

<p>DNA barcoding seeks to assemble a standardized reference library for rapid and unambiguous identification of species, and can be used to screen for potentially cryptic species. The 5′ region of cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI), which is a mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) gene fragment, has been proposed as a universal marker for this purpose among animals. However, DNA barcoding of reptiles is still supported only by few datasets compared with other groups. We investigated theutilization of COI to discriminate 34 putative species of vipers, representing almost 92% of the recorded species in China.</p> <p>Based on a total of 241 sequences, our results indicated that the average degree of intraspecific variability (0.0198) tends to be one-sixth the average of interspecific divergence (0.0931), but no barcoding gap was detected between them. The threshold method, BLOG analyses and tree-based methods all can identify species with a high success rate. These results consistently suggested the usefulness and reliability of the DNA barcoding approach in Chinese vipers.</p>