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GlobaliBOL membership beckons for Switzerland


SwissBOL created at Geneva meeting

Switzerland has taken the first steps towards becoming a node of the International Barcode of Life Project (iBOL). Researchers and government officials who attended a meeting at the University of Geneva last fall agreed to form SwissBOL, a coordinated network to barcode Swiss biodiversity.

SwissBOL will have five main objectives:

  • • To build up a comprehensive DNA barcode reference library of species present in Switzerland and/or preserved in Swiss collections;
  • • To create a Swiss biodiversity DNA bank, in which the DNA extracted from barcoded specimens will be deposited;
  • • To develop and stimulate projects that use DNA barcoding in biodiversity surveys and environmental risk assessment;
  • • To extend DNA barcoding to the multi-locus approaches necessary to identify cryptic species that have arisen in the past few million years and will be easily achievable with Next Generation Sequencing applications;
  • • To join iBOL as an official member and integrate SwissBOL projects within ECBOL and the iBOL framework.

The Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) has expressed interest in the project and a funding proposal will be submitted once SwissBOL's formal structure and organization have been established.

The Geneva meeting featured three guest speakers, iBOL Scientific Director Paul Hebert, Gerhard Haszpunar, of Barcoding Fauna Bavarica and Lorenzo Lombard, Coordinator of the European Consortium for the Barcode of Life (ECBOL). They were followed by presentations from six Swiss scientists who explained how they use barcoding in their research.

Only one Swiss institution, Agroscope ChanginsWädenswil ACW, is currently involved in an international barcoding project - the EU-FP7 Quarantine Barcoding of Life project (QBOL). All other barcoding activity derives from individual research projects.

Although it is generally assumed that the biodiversity of Switzerland is well known and that most species are easily identified, genetic data are available for few well-studied taxonomic groups and very little is known about the genetic structure and diversity within most described species. Moreover, the ability to harness next-gen sequencing tools for landscape-level biomonitoring is severely constrained without a barcode reference library.

Barcoding species-rich collections - including a remarkable number of type specimens - preserved in Swiss museums and herbaria would add huge value to past and ongoing taxonomic research.

(Adapted from ECBOL Newsletter - Issue 5)


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