Major boost for barcoding and species discovery
Just two years after the launch of the Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative (NTI), the multi-million dollar effort is not only giving a major boost to DNA barcoding but also revealing surprising levels of undocumented diversity among the country's insect fauna.
All projects funded through NTI are required to sample and fix specimens in a DNA-friendly manner and to make material available for barcoding through the Norwegian Barcode of Life Network (NorBOL).
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There is intense interest in DNA barcoding among project participants, some of whom have already generated interesting barcode results. Among these is a survey of hydrophiluous insects in the county of Finnmark in the northernmost part of mainland Norway. DNA barcoding of non-biting midges from this project has helped to reveal hitherto undocumented diversity and resulted in an almost fivefold increase in species from the region.
Many of these are are also new to Norway and between 10 and 20 species and possibly two genera are new to science. In addition, comparing the barcodes of non-biting midges from Finnmark, the Svalbard islands and Churchill (Canada) has revealed interesting phylogeographic affinities among these Arctic species and species groups.
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NTI was initiated in 2009 with an annual budget of NOK 25 million (US$4.6 million) to increase knowledge of little-known species and species groups in Norway. Twenty-three inventories of algae, fungi, lichens, mosses, insects and other terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates have been funded so far.
NTI projects have already generated a substantial amount of new knowledge about the country’s fauna and flora, including discovery of many species that are new to Norway and to science.
NTI is coordinated by the the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre and operates in close cooperation with the Swedish Taxonomy Initiative. This relationship is formalised through a bilateral agreement between the environmental ministries of Norway and Sweden.
As well as funding inventories, NTI also supports a research school in biosystematics offering a wide range of both practical and theoretical courses.
The NTI recently granted the NTNU Museum of Natural History and Archaeology in Trondheim NOK 100,000 (US$18,500) to conduct a workshop on DNA barcoding for NTI projects. The workshop will be held later this year and organizers expect many interested participants for three days of practical and theoretical discussions on topics ranging from sample preparation production and to analysis of barcode data.
At NTI, Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre, Trondheim:
- Ingrid Salvesen