Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Barcoding All Life on Planet Earth

DNA Barcoding is the process of defining a short DNA sequence which is unique to a particular species. Once we have such a piece of DNA for a species we can use it to identify that species by looking for that sequence whenever we are trying to find out what species an unknown organism (or part of an organism) belongs to - rather like scanning the barcode of a product in a supermarket in order to find out what it costs and other information.

All supermarkets have tens of thousands of products that all need a unique barcode and those are provided by the manufacturer of the goods. Bold Systems are attempting to record a unique barcode for every living species on the planet - or at least every one that can be practically achieved. That is quite some undertaking as there are many millions of life forms on earth and the current count has reached over two million barcodes - there is a long way to go! The map heading this blog gives an idea of the spread of barcoded species that have already been collected.

Of the species already barcoded around 2500 are fungi.

Bold Systems are one part of this work that attempts to aid the collection of barcodes by providing access to the tools & resources needed free of charge, however there are other groups including the Consortium for the Barcode of Life

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