The History of DNA Barcoding

The History of DNA Barcoding

DNA barcoding really started in two
thousand three and it started with Canadian scientist Paul
Hebert at University of Guelph, wrote a paper saying that we could use short DNA
sequences from a certain region, a standardized region of the
genome, to identify species. And he said and we could call these
DNA barcodes, and this is really by analogy with, you know, when you go through the supermarket
and you go to check out, the cashier doesn’t have to read the label, they
just scan it and as much faster than reading labels so the idea was could we
develop a system for species that would have some of those same features where
we can use a machine to read the DNA, in a sense match that to a name, and that
would help us identify things which is really difficult to do. There are about two million named
species of plants and animals and that’s far more than any
one person can keep track of and then in addition, a lot of things
have different life stages, their eggs, their larvae, or you might want to know what’s in
the stomach, what does something to eat. When this started in two thousand
three, it was an idea that Paul Hebert proposed and that led to a workshop, two
workshops actually, at Cold Spring Harbor. One in March and then another one
in the following September to get other scientists together to say okay that’s a nice idea but really is it going to work? Because of that time there weren’t
barcodes for many species and is it going to work and how we’re, if it’s going to work,
how we’re gonna make it work. And from the beginning it was clear it was a way of taking science knowledge of experts and making it
available to a much wider number of people. So two thousand three it was an idea and as of today there now over a
million barcode records that’s from a million different specimens each one
is which been identified individually by a specialist so the next phase is to go from a million
records two five million records, go from a hundred thousand species
to five hundred thousand species, and we’ve got a wonderful group of
international collaborators that are dedicated to working on their group or their
country to make a bar coding effective really around the world.

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