Australia has been an active participant in barcoding activity for more than a decade, and the fourth iBOL conference was held in Adelaide in 2011. National participation is now led by the South Australian Museum, with Mark Stevens representing Australia on the iBOL Science Committee. Around the country, many research groups actively use barcoding and metabarcoding in their daily activities, but there had not been any recent forum to bring these initiatives together and to explore opportunities to collaborate, especially in the context of BIOSCAN.
A two-day workshop held at the University of Melbourne on 26-27 February 2020 brought together 42 participants to report on existing projects and to discuss shared needs and opportunities. Attendance was biased towards terrestrial and freshwater initiatives, and additional effort is necessary to build a network that fully encompasses all relevant stakeholders. Nevertheless, the discussions explored multiple applications across each of taxonomy, ecology, biomonitoring, and pest management.
DNA barcoding was recognised as a key tool required to meet the vision developed by Taxonomy Australia of describing the remainder of the Australian biota within a generation. A comprehensive barcode library, combined with agreed protocols for metabarcoding, could transform biodiversity surveys and biomonitoring, particularly for groups such as fungi, insects and other invertebrate taxa which cannot be efficiently surveyed today. This is critically important as Australian ecosystems face significant pressures from climate change, altered fire and water regimes, and human activity. Participants were keen to develop a strategy to address these needs within Australia and to seek necessary funds to support large-scale activity.
Immediate actions identified for the coming months included better communications between Australian researchers concerning their interests and active projects, information sharing on environmental samples of possible value to those working with different taxa, and access to documentation and training on iBOL protocols and use of the BOLD platform.
Presentations from the workshop can be accessed here. We are grateful to Nick Bell (University of Melbourne) for organising the rooms.
International Barcode of Life Consortium
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.