Centre for Biodiversity Genomics receives funding to enhance global biodiversity informatics platforms
September 14, 2020

A $376,000 award will extend the interoperability and reuse of biodiversity data held by two informatics platforms, BOLD and mBRAVE developed at the University of Guelph’s Centre for Biodiversity Genomics (CBG).

“This award will make it possible to greatly extend the capacity of these platforms to support the global biodiversity science community, aiding research on themes ranging from environmental assessments to biosecurity and conservation,” said Prof. Paul Hebert, the CBG’s director. “It will also advance research in key areas including agriculture, climate change, and pandemics.”

The project, “BOLD and mBRAVE: Maximizing impacts and access” is funded by CANARIE, a non-profit with a mandate to strengthen Canadian leadership in science and technology by delivering digital infrastructure that supports world-class research and innovation.

The Barcode of Life Data System (BOLD), first released in 2005, is a workbench used to acquire, store, analyze, and publish DNA barcodes which are now the international standard for discriminating species via genetic sequences. With nearly 30,000 registered users, BOLD is an indispensable tool for biodiversity researchers and was recently recognized as one of the world’s top data repositories. The Multiplex Barcode Research and Visualization Environment (mBRAVE), launched in 2017, supports DNA metabarcoding workflows, the parallel sequencing of thousands of individual specimens, and the analysis and interpretation of massive volumes of data produced by high-throughput sequencing (HTS). These data are integrated to support species identification and discovery at previously impossible scales.

The CANARIE-funded project will improve the data distribution capabilities of BOLD and mBRAVE and will also enhance their ability to interface with other major biodiversity data infrastructures such as GenBank, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), and the Catalogue of Life (CoL).

Sujeevan Ratnasingham, chief architect of BOLD Systems
Sujeevan Ratnasingham, Associate Director – Informatics, Chief Architect of BOLD and mBRAVE

“Our aim is to work with these data initiatives to develop a seamless open data fabric that serves the biodiversity science community,” said Sujeevan Ratnasingham, an adjunct professor who is leading the project. Ratnasingham is also Associate Director, Informatics who has led the development of BOLD and mBRAVE from the beginning.

Ratnasingham’s informatics team will develop infrastructure that will enable researchers to discover and access biodiversity-based sequence data through GenBank, specimen and metabarcoding data through GBIF, species designations and their identifiers through CoL. They will also reengineer and add to existing functionality of BOLD and mBRAVE to comply with FAIR Data Principles and the National Data Services Framework

Media Contacts:


International Barcode of Life 

Hannah James
Manager – Media and Strategic Communications

Centre for Biodiversity Genomics

Sujeevan Ratnasingham
Associate Director – Informatics
Adjunct Professor

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.

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