Reality Check Interviews iBOL's Austrian representative Nikolaus Szucsich

Reality Check is FM4 Radio’s current affairs program with interviews and analysis of stories from around the world

 Hosted by Steve Crilley, Chris Cummins, Riem Higazi, and Hal Rock.

Radio FM4 is an Austrian national radio station, operated by the Österreichischer Rundfunk (English: Austrian Broadcasting Corporation)



(German parts translated)


Host: ..and now I am going to tell you about something cool – the International Barcode of Life or iBOL, a project to create an exact inventory of all life on earth. Nikolaus Szucsich is in charge of the Austrian part of the project and he is leading a team finding a sample of every species in Austria whether that be a mushroom, an insect or a big furry mammal and then extracting some DNA.

Nikolaus: ..the specimen as such will be kept, we will take only a small part, e.g. a small bit of tissue for vertebrates or a leg of an insect is sufficient to extract DNA from it.

Host: It is obviously a huge project just for this one small country. Worldwide the scale is mindboggling.

Nikolaus: We just met in Canada and agreed on a number of common goals for the project. One target is to generate DNA barcodes for 2.5 Million species allowing us to identify all those species using their DNA. The deadline for this is the year 2025.

Host: So, what’s the point?

Nikolaus: There are a number of interesting applications such as conservation in general but also identification of some food ingredients which can be verified by DNA.

Host: We keep hearing about a mass extinction going on due to human activity. So, is it a race against time to log all these species before many disappear?

Nikolaus: Unfortunately, this is a real threat especially in the tropics. However, it is also very relevant in our part of the world, e.g. cold-adapted mountain species are currently moving into higher elevations because it continuously gets warmer. As one can imagine there will be an end to that movement once the summit has been reached.

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