DNA Barcoding

quick intro and summary



Specific Goals

How it Works

How to Help

The Database

Missing Taxa



FLMNH 2005

Imagine a tricorder for this world that could give you the name of all life forms you might want to know. Ideally, one could identify any organism, or part of an organism, including eggs, larvae, etc - anything with intact DNA that can be sampled; CSI type forensics for ecologists, biologists and bakyard enthusiasts. Just slip a little tissue sample in your handheld device, it runs a little DNA analysis and via satellite hookup you're instantly connected to the encyclopedia of life, with all sorts of pictures, facts and information assembled from the web. This is the vision put forth by the Consortium for the Barcoding of Life. Using a standard short piece of mtDNA for most animals, we'll be able to not only identify, but also assist in discovering new species. The long term goals are to increase bio-literacy and make biodiversity accessible to all.
The problem is that the comparative database needs to exist, and with more than 80% of the world's diversity undescribed, we've got a long way to go. Moreover, we have no idea what sort of error rates are expected both for species identification and species discovery. That's where the CGDP comes into play. Using the cowrie project, we can estimate both how well DNA barcoding is expected to perform both for species identification and for discovery. THE CGDP is ideal because not only have we sampled almost exhaustively across all species and subspecies to get a handle on what to expect between taxa, but also because we have good sampling within any particular species to estimate the variation expected within taxa. In order to explore this more, please follow the links below:

Meyer & Paulay. 2005. DNA barcoding: Error rates based on comprehensive sampling. PLoS Biology.

The results from this paper are summarized in the following poster which can be downloaded as a large .gif format here.

  The COI dataset is available upon request. The dataset is intended to be used as a test case for the performance of alternative algorithms developed in conjuction with the Data Analysis Working Group (DAWG) of the Consortium for Barcoding Life.