we are

illuminating biodiversity

About Us

We are the International Barcode of Life Consortium

iBOL is working to establish an Earth observation system that will discover species, reveal their interactions, and establish biodiversity baselines. We are tracking ecosystems across the planet and exploring symbiomes – the distinct fungal, plant, and animal species associated with host organisms. Our goal is to complete this research and establish baseline data for science and society’s benefit.

Our Impact

We engage scientists, students, and citizens around the world in biodiversity research



Our first project, BARCODE 500K, established the effectiveness of DNA barcodes in providing quick and accurate specimen identification. By expanding upon the protocols established during the project’s five year duration we are rapidly advancing the process of species identification and discovery. While all iBOL activities contribute to the expansion of the DNA barcode library and discovery of new species, some projects – such as BioAlfa – are dedicated to comprehensive species surveys of a specific region.
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Advances in DNA barcoding, metabarcoding, and eDNA analysis have propelled our understanding of the complex relationships between different species beyond the scope of the ‘food web’ concept. iBOL researchers are working to reveal the symbiome – the entirety of the complex biotic community associated with an organism – to gain a greater understanding of a species’ role in the ecosystem.

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In the face of climate change and the ever-increasing impact of the human population upon global biodiversity, the need to establish baseline knowledge has never been more clear. We cannot protect that which cannot be measured or understood, and to further this cause several iBOL projects are using advanced tools like DNA metabarcoding to lay the foundation for a global biosurveillance system.

Our Projects

Costa Rica


iBOL research helps facilitate Costa Rica’s stated goal to become the first tropical country in the world to fully know its biodiversity

United Kingdom


This project aims to study the genetic diversity of 1M flying insects from 100 sites across the UK over a span of five years



Bringing together existing European national networks, scientists and projects that work on the monitoring of biodiversity using DNA barcoding



Developing a platform for community-based biodiversity monitoring in the Canadian Arctic

What if...

What happens when we illuminate biodiversity?

Bioliteracy at our fingertips

Recent advances are bringing science fiction closer to reality every day. It is already possible to identify unknown specimens in hours – one day it could happen in seconds, like on Star Trek

Monitor and protect the environment

Dangerous invasive species can be caught at the border, identified at any stage of life, or even detected in the wild by grabbing their environmental DNA out of the air

Quality assurance and control

DNA barcoding can be used to detect food substitution, trafficking in endangered species, and the presence of adulterated or harmful products not listed in the ingredients

Our partners & Funders

Supported by Global Excellence

Learn more about iBOL

The International Barcode of Life Consortium is a research alliance undertaking the largest global biodiversity science initiative: create a digital identification system for life that is accessible to everyone

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