Control control control: a reassessment and comparison of GenBank and chromatogram mtDNA sequence variation in Baltic grey seals (Halichoerus grypus)

Katharina Fietz*, Jefferson Alden Graves, Morten Tange Olsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Genetic data can provide a powerful tool for those interested in the biology, management and conservation of wildlife, but also lead to erroneous conclusions if appropriate controls are not taken at all steps of the analytical process. This particularly applies to data deposited in public repositories such as GenBank, whose utility relies heavily on the assumption of high data quality. Here we report on an in-depth reassessment and comparison of GenBank and chromatogram mtDNA sequence data generated in a previous study of Baltic grey seals. By re-editing the original chromatogram data we found that approximately 40% of the grey seal mtDNA haplotype sequences posted in GenBank contained errors. The re-analysis of the edited chromatogram data yielded overall similar results and conclusions as the original study. However, a significantly different outcome was observed when using the uncorrected dataset based on the GenBank haplotypes. We therefore suggest disregarding the existing GenBank data and instead using the correct haplotypes reported here. Our study serves as an illustrative example reiterating the importance of quality control through every step of a research project, from data generation to interpretation and submission to an online repository. Errors conducted in any step may lead to biased results and conclusions, and could impact management decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere72853
Number of pages7
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume8
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2013

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