DNA Barcoding

A tool for specimen identification and species discovery

The Process

Step 1: Isolate DNA from the sample
Step 2: Amplify the target DNA barcode region using PCR
Step 3: Sequence the PCR products
Step 4: Compare the resulting sequences against reference databases to find the matching species

The DNA Barcode

Plant barcoding studies use one or a few plastid regions (e.g. rbcL and matK, and the non-coding spacer trnH-psbA) and the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of nuclear ribosomal DNA.

Animal barcoding studies use a region in the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase 1 gene (“CO1”).

Fungal barcoding studies use the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region in the nuclear ribosomal cistron. This region shows reasonable discriminatory power at the species level in many groups.

The Library

Barcode sequences are placed in the Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) database – an online workbench that includes a reference library of DNA barcodes that can be used to assign identities to sequences of unknown origin.

BOLD is a searchable repository for barcode records, storing specimen data and images as well as sequences and trace files. It provides an identification engine based on the current barcode library and monitors the number of barcode sequence records and species coverage.

The Applications

iBOL researchers have applied DNA barcoding to real-world problems with broad impacts on all areas in which society interacts with biodiversity – pest and disease control, food production and safety, resource management, conservation, research, education, and recreation.

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