Present study was outlined to evaluate the authenticity of morphological identifications of spiders from rice ecosystems of district Lahore, Sialkot and Mandi Bahauddin, Punjab, Pakistan by using DNA barcoding. A total of 2736 spiders were collected from July to October during 2018-19. They were brought to the laboratory for subsequent morphological identification, DNA extraction and sequencing. We identified 38 morph-species, representing 22 genera and 8 families. Accuracy of morphological identification was confirmed by barcode analysis of tissue samples. A standard barcode sequence of COI (Cytochrome c Oxidase I) was recovered from 90 specimens of spiders. Percentage accuracy of morphological identification was 92.10%. Four morphologically misidentified spiders were allotted to correct taxon after molecular identification. To describe the species diversity and richness in numerical structure, diversity indices (Shannon’s and Simpson’s) and evenness indices (Margalf’s index, Chao 1) were applied. No overlap was found between inter-specific and intra-specific divergence values. Neighbor joining tree clearly separated the species into different clusters. Present study concluded that although morphological identification of spiders works convincingly, but it becomes more authentic and reliable when merged with DNA barcoding.
Novelty Statement | Current study encompasses the use of novel molecular technique of DNA barcoding to authenticate the morphological identification as compared to the conventional taxonomy. Moreover, the barcodes of the spiders has generated the reference molecular library which would help in establishing the phylogenetic relationships among various spider species for diversity analysis in future. Authentic molecular evaluation will also help to correct the misidentified specimens.