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GlobalAdelaide spotlight on biosecurity

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Conference session to showcase latest research

barcodebulletin The latest research into using DNA barcoding to enhance biosecurity will be in the spotlight in the Barcoding for Biosecurity session at the fourth International Barcode of Life Conference in Adelaide in November.

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The session will highlight the regulatory, social, political and technical impediments to wider implementation of barcoding for biosecurity applications and present possible solutions.

The world's agro-ecosystems are coming under increasing pressure as populations continue to rise and climates change," said session chair Andrew Mitchell, an insect systematist at the Australian Museum in Sydney. "Controlling pests and diseases and preventing their expansion into new areas is now more important than ever before."

Mitchell, who is Australia’s representative on the iBOL Scientific Steering Committee, said that biosecurity applications feature prominently in lists of potential uses of DNA barcoding. "Compiling a DNA barcode database of the world's most important pests, parasites and pathogens should be one of our top priorities," he said.

TREEBOL: Tackling deforestation with DNA

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The ability to make fast, accurate identifications of tree species in the timber supply chain is a key component of strategies to protect high-value trees from illegal logging. The current identification method using anatomical characteristics often makes species resolution impossible, particularly for some closely related high value timber species such as mahoganies.

This session will focus on efforts to develop DNA barcoding methods to distinguish between species, helping to limit the trade in illegally logged species and redirect market pressures that drive deforestation into sustainable timber sources.

HealthBOL: Tracking vectors and pathogens

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Speakers at this session will cover disease vectors and pathogens of medical and veterinary importance. "Vector-borne pathogens are of considerable public health and economic importance globally but particularly in the tropics," said session chair Dan Masiga, head of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at African Insect Science for Food and Health (icipe) in Nairobi.

Masiga, who also sits on the iBOL Scientific Steering Committee representing Kenya and chairing Working Group 1.4 – Animal Parasites, Pathogens & Vectors, said that barcoding can provide data that will help better understand vector and pathogen variability, and epidemiology, with potential value for designing control efforts.

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