New ‘Dark Taxa’ project set to illuminate biodiversity in Central Europe’s darkest corners.
By: Axel Hausmann, Lars Krogmann, Ralph S. Peters, Vera Rduch, Stefan Schmidt
BIOSCAN, the second phase of iBOL, aims at illuminating biodiversity by discovering species, unveiling species interactions, and investigating species dynamics. The targets include generating DNA barcodes for at least two million species, sequencing symbiomes to investigate interactions, and conducting metabarcoding studies at 2,000 sites worldwide. Germany will contribute to BIOSCAN through another major large-scale DNA barcoding project. The new German Barcode of Life project, GBOL III: Dark Taxa commenced on July 1st, 2020. The project is funded by a 5.3 million Euro grant from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
The project will address a range of questions related to the part of the German fauna that is still largely unknown, and comprises the so-called “Dark Taxa”, in particular Diptera (flies and midges) and parasitoid Hymenoptera (parasitoid wasps). Twelve PhD students at three major natural history institutions in Bonn (Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig), Munich (Bavarian State Collection of Zoology), Stuttgart (State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart), and the University of Würzburg will tackle the taxonomy of Germany’s “Dark Taxa” using an integrative taxonomic approach. The Entomological Society Krefeld further joins the consortium.
A major goal of the project is the training of a new generation of taxonomists. The project will focus on extensive sampling of the target taxa, assessment of the performance of DNA barcoding for the identification of species in these often extremely diverse and species rich, yet virtually unknown groups of organisms, and their detection in mass samples as part of metabarcoding studies. Other aspects include the development of a platform for managing OTU-based taxonomic data and development of a pipeline for reliable and fast barcoding of small and poor-quality samples. Recent advancements in high-throughput sequencing techniques will allow to estimate the role of cryptic parasitoids during outbreaks of pest species, and to address questions related to the insect decline that was only recently uncovered by the Entomological Society Krefeld, initiating prominent public discussion about biodiversity research and conservation. A more-in-depth presentation of GBOL III: Dark Taxa can be found on the Barcode Bulletin.
Small parasitoid wasps of the families Mymaridae (top) and Eulophidae (bottom), both groups with possibly hundreds of new species in Germany that still await discovery.
(Photos courtesy Axel Hausmann)
International Barcode of Life
Manager – Media and Strategic Communications
The International Barcode of Life (iBOL) Consortium is a research alliance with a mission to develop and apply a globally accessible, DNA-based system for the discovery and identification of all multicellular life. Our vision is to illuminate biodiversity for the benefit of our living planet.