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GlobalWG 2.4 – Environmental Barcoding


Sequencing on a massive scale

Chair: Mehrdad Hajibabaei,
Biodiversity Instittue of Ontario,
Guelph, Canada

Vice-chair: Markus Pfenninger,
J. W. Goethe-Universitat,
Frankfurt, Germany

Studies have established that ‘mini-barcode’ fragments provide resolution close to that obtained from full-length barcodes for fishes, insects and mammals. This is important for two reasons. First, biological material with fragmented and degraded DNA, such as food products and old museum specimens, can be identified by analyzing short stretches of DNA. And second, the capacity to distinguish species with short reads opens the prospect of using second-generation sequencers to analyze massive numbers of samples. This is environmental barcoding.

While “classical” DNA barcoding gathers sequence information from single specimens, environmental barcoding will deliver information on assemblages of specimens. The Environmental Barcoding Working Group is developing platforms to identify target species in situations where direct reads of the full barcode sequence are not feasible and for recovering large numbers of DNA barcodes through massively parallel pyrosequencing technology. These platforms will radically advance the applications of DNA barcoding for large-scale environmental and ecological genomics analysis and provide the accurate measures of species and genetic richness that are key to monitoring environmental health, but currently impossible to execute.


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