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Researcher Recommend Two Genes for Barcoding of Plants

An international team of researchers has recommended using two genes for the barcoding of land plant, a step the team hopes will lead to a universal system for identifying over 400,000 species, and ultimately boost conservation efforts. Limiting the barcode to information generated from two DNA sites should help cut costs associated with sequencing and retrieving the correct information. "We've selected areas of DNA that are available in the vast majority of plants, could easily and accurately be sequenced, and when combined, provide a near-unique signature for barcoding,” said Dr. Sean Graham, an author of the study." The team selected two chloroplast genes referred to as rbcL and matK as the best candidates from which to generate barcode data. "There's no doubt this will be refined in the future, but there is a need for a core barcoding standard now," said Dr. Graham. "Particular research projects with special needs could augment the system by adding a third DNA locus to their barcode if required.” Barcodes based on portions of DNA--the taxonomical equivalent to UPC barcodes on products--have already emerged as a viable solution for uniquely identifying species in many animal groups. However, because DNA varies less between plant species, determining which portions of plant DNA to use as a unique identifier has been a thorny issue. This new work was published in PNAS the week of July 27. [Press release 1] [Press release 2] [PNAS abstract]