Author Archive

Unprecedented Registration for Adelaide Conference: Space Very Limited

September 22, 2011
Dr. David Schindel

Dr. David Schindel

Registration for the Fourth International Barcode of Life Conference in Adelaide, South Australia (28 November – 3 December 2011) is about to surpass the records for all past conferences.

The 2007 Taipei conference and the 2009 Mexico City conference each attracted about 350 participants.  With more than two months to go before the Adelaide conference, more than 320 people have already registered.

The Local Organizing Committee has indicated that the facilities are limited to about 400 registered participants.  They predict that at the current rate, the conference could be filled as soon as mid-October, forcing them to close registration.

Be sure to register soon to ensure your place in the conference!

The pre-conference training events are also nearly filled.  Organizers report that more than 120 people have registered and a limit of 140 has been set.  These events are designed for newcomers to barcoding and the organizers ask people to register only if they are seeking a first introduction to barcoding techniques.

The early discounted registration is now closed though students and participants from developing countries still have reduced fees for registration.

Agenda and Presenters Selected for Adelaide Conference

September 8, 2011
Dr. David Schindel

Dr. David Schindel

The Program Committee of the Adelaide Barcode Conference has finished the massive job of reviewing 493 abstracts and organizing them into sessions.  This task was completed by members of the Conference Program Committee and about 40 volunteer Session Organizers who will be chairing sessions at the Conference.  The Conference organizers offer them a big THANK YOU for their contributions.

You can see the resulting agenda of sessions that includes links to lists of presentations in each session. Currently, only the title and submitter’s name are listed for each abstract.  The text, names of authors, and the time-slot for each presentation will be added in early October.

Based on this extensive review process, here’s what will be available to you at the Adelaide Conference:

  • Three plenary sessions:  The Program Committee is still in the process of selecting these speakers so some of the submitted abstracts aren’t on the website or in the abstract search portal yet (see below);
  • Four large sessions with 32 plenary talks on barcoding in major taxonomic groups;
  • 15 parallel sessions on taxonomic groups;
  • 16 parallel sessions on thematic topics;
  • More than 160 oral presentations in parallel taxonomic and thematic sessions;
  • An afternoon session for viewing 140 poster presentations; and
  • 90 short ‘lightning’ oral presentations that summarize poster displays.

Those who submitted abstracts for consideration will begin to receive email notifications today, telling them if their abstracts have been accepted for oral and/or poster presentations.

CBOL has constructed an abstract search portal that makes it easy for you to find a specific abstract, determine if it will be presented as a parallel talk, a short ‘lightning talk’ that summarizes a poster presentation, or as a poster. The portal also allows you to browse the abstract titles by session, keyword(s) or type of presentation.

There are two more important tasks left before the agenda is completely finalized:

  • Selection of plenary speakers.  Not all the submitters of abstracts will be getting notifications in the coming days.  About 30 have been nominated by Session Organizers as possible speakers in the large plenary sessions.  The Program Committee will be selecting those speakers in the next week.  Submitters will be notified at that time and their abstracts will be added to the online agenda and abstract search portal.
  • Correction of abstracts.  CBOL is expanding the abstract search portal so that authors can make corrections to their text and the list of co-authors and their institutional affiliations.  Authors must use this portal either to make corrections or to confirm that the current version is correct.  All submitters will receive an email message with instructions when the portal is ready.

The Conference Organizers offer their sincere thanks to all the submitters of abstracts for their interest in the conference and their patience during the review period.

Adelaide Conference Program Committee Hard at Work

August 26, 2011
Dr. David Schindel

Dr. David Schindel

The organizers of the Fourth International Barcode of Life Conference issued calls for abstracts and applications for travel bursaries at the beginning of April 2011 and due to the high number of responses the deadlines were extended into July.  By the time the last submissions arrived through the online system, the response totaled more than double those of previous barcode conferences.  We received:

  • 490 abstracts from 58 countries, and
  • 225 applications for travel bursaries from 38 countries

The focus shifted immediately to the Program Committee which has responsibility for creating the scientific program for the conference and selecting recipients of travel support provided by the conference budget.  The committee recruited about 50 volunteer session organizers that includes:

  • Members of CBOL’s Executive Committee;
  • Members of the Local Organizing Committee in Australia;
  • Leading barcode researchers, especially in Australia;
  • Members of CBOL’s Implementation Board, made up of leaders of CBOL Working Groups, barcoding campaigns, committees, and non-CBOL organizations such as iBOL, BOLD, and GenBank; and
  • Leads and co-Leads of iBOL’s Working Groups.

CBOL created online systems that would make the enormous reviewing job easier for the Program Committee.  A subcommittee immediately started reviewing applications for travel bursaries using the following criteria:

  • Past involvement in barcoding projects through CBOL, iBOL and other projects;
  • Past productivity in generating barcode data and publications;
  • Plans for future involvement in barcoding projects; and
  • The quality of abstracts submitted to the Adelaide Conference.

Fifteen applicants from 15 different countries have been selected for support in a first round of awards. The Program Committee has selected an additional 30 alternates for a waiting list.  Fifteen of these alternates have been recommended to other funding sources that are considering their applications now. The Conference organizers continue to try to raise funds for travel bursaries and we hope to make a second round of travel awards in September.

Reviewing the abstracts is a more complicated task.  Back in the spring, the Program Committee decided that the Conference should include a variety of session formats:

  • A few plenary sessions with presentations of interest to the entire barcoding community;
  • A half-day session with presentations of interest to different taxonomic communities (plants, vertebrates, invertebrates, and microbes, including fungi, protists and microalgae);
  • Many smaller meetings in which specialists could exchange information and plan collaborative activities.  These more technical sessions could focus on smaller taxonomic groups (e.g., fish, birds, insects) or thematic issues (e.g., informatics, environmental barcoding, or lab procedures).

For the past six weeks, session organizers and members of the Program Community have been reviewing abstracts for quality and relevance, and assigning them to the most appropriate session.  At the outset of the process, session organizers were given complete freedom to decide the best use of their sessions.  Some want to include as many oral presentations as possible, while others are assigning more abstracts to poster presentations so their meeting time can be used for discussion and planning.

The process of developing the agenda is almost finished.  A Provisional Agenda will be posted on theConference website around 1 September.  The Program Committee and session organizers hope you’ll find the agenda an exciting and innovative plan and they appreciate your patience as they complete their work.

Plans on Track for Adelaide

July 7, 2011
Dr. David Schindel

Dr. David Schindel

Preparations for the Fourth International Barcode of Life Conference have entered a new phase, breaking records for expressions of interest from potential presenters.  The online submission forms for abstracts and travel bursary applications opened around 1 April and the deadlines were extended several times due to continued interest (see plots of submissions below).  By the time submissions closed, 450 abstracts had been received from 57 countries, far surpassing levels of interest leading up to previous barcode conferences.  (The 2009 Mexico City conference received 255 abstracts from 44 countries.)

The abstract submission form listed 30 topics suggested by the Program Committee for potential sessions.  People who submitted abstracts suggested an additional 19 session topics.  This is one more sign of the exuberant growth of barcoding at the grass-roots level.

What can you expect to see during the Adelaide conference?

  •  Abstracts show that barcoding has become a mainstream tool in taxonomy.  The conference will give specialists in an increasing diversity of taxonomic groups great opportunities for deep discussions with other specialists on their groups;
  • Tremendous progress on barcoding fungi.  The Fungal Working Group is expected to announce formal approval of a standard BARCODE region at the Adelaide conference;
  • Continued growth in the use of next-generation sequencing for environmental samples;
  • Expansion of barcoding activities into new geographic areas and habitat types, ranging from the Himalayas to subterranean zones;
  • Impressive expansion of plant barcoding activity since announcement of the standard barcode regions for land plants at the Mexico City conference in November 2009;
  • Diversification and expansion of barcoding applications in areas such as:
      • Ecological studies;
      • All-taxa biodiversity inventories;
      •  Species conservation;
      •  Environmental quality assessment; and
      • Identification of agricultural pests and disease vectors; and
  • Establishment and growth of new barcoding facilities and national networks.

The conference’s Program Committee and session organizers will now review the abstracts and assign them to conference sessions and poster display areas.  Completion of the review is expected by the end of July.  Submitters of abstracts and travel bursaries will be informed of the results in early August.  Organizers of parallel sessions will have complete freedom to design the kind of sessions they think will be most interesting to the community.  They will decide the mix among:

  • Short oral presentations,
  • Poster presentations,
  • Workshop interactions, and
  • Open discussion.

The two days before the conference (Monday and Tuesday, 29-29 November 2011) will offer newcomers to barcoding the opportunity to attend introductory training sessions.  The first day will be devoted to the BOLD workbench and other informatics platforms.  The second day will offer a short course on lab protocols, organized by CBOL’s Leading Labs Network.

What kind of conference will the Program Committee and session organizers create?  The Program Committee has planned a stimulating mix of formats during the four day conference:

  • Plenary sessions on the first and last days of the conference;
  • A session devoted to visiting poster presentations and exhibit booths;
  • A session for four parallel sessions for general-interest presentations on plants, invertebrates, vertebrates and fungi/microbes;
  • Three sessions with parallel meetings devoted to taxonomic groups and thematic topics; and
  • A half-day of free time to explore Adelaide!  The registration form will offer you a choice of three tour options with exclusive conference pricing. Choose from an aboriginal cultural tour of Adelaide, a visit to the nearby Cleland Wildlife Park, a survey of three of Adelaide’s famed vineyards—or you can use the free time to explore on your own!

Session Spotlight: Social Aspects of Barcoding

June 15, 2011
Kris Jett

Kris Jett

Less than two days before abstract submission close! Remember, submit by midnight Eastern US Time on 15 June.

David Castle


Session Spotlight

Session: Social Aspects of Barcoding

Session Chair: David Castle

• What does your proposed session cover? Why is it important to barcoding?

Our session covers the social aspects of barcoding including access and benefits sharing, trade and biosecurity, intellectual property, public communication and governance issues.

The social aspects of barcoding are important because barcoding, like other parts of conservation and ecological science, run up against barriers of individual behaviour and institutional organisation and practices. To get barcoding done, to use the results to protect biodiversity, is only partly scientific and technological – the rest is social.

• What is your vision for the 4th Conference?

From the standpoint of the social sciences and humanities involvement in a conference like the international DNA barcoding meeting, one generally hopes to have a high level of integration of the scientific and social considerations bearing on barcoding uptake and use.

• What research do you do?

I work on the integration of social science into natural science, with a focus on intellectual property and knowledge management as well as the governance issues. I am also interested in the way that barcoding raises new and old issues for the community of taxonomists in light of the implications of barcoding for how we classify organisms.

• If people are interested in this topic, what can they do to get involved in addition to submitting an abstract?

They should send me an email! We are looking to develop an international network over the next few years of scholars and practitioners interested in the social aspects of DNA barcoding.

Session Spotlight: Health-BOL

June 14, 2011
Kris Jett

Kris Jett

Only three days left before abstract submission close! Remember, submit by midnight Eastern US Time on 15 June.

Dan Masiga


Session Spotlight

Session: Health-BOL

Session Chair: Dan Masiga

• What does your proposed session cover? Why is it important to barcoding?

The session covers disease vectors and pathogens of medical and veterinary importance.   Vector-borne pathogens are of considerable public health and economic importance globally, perhaps more significantly in the tropics.  Barcoding can provide data that will help better understand vector and pathogen variability, and epidemiology, with potential value for designing control efforts.

• What is your vision for the 4th Conference?

I see the 4th conference providing evidence of increased application of barcoding as a tool for various studies, beyond generation of barcode libraries.  I see more opportunities for networking south-south, and south-north.

• What research do you do?

My research is in disease vector-pathogen studies, with an aim of developing tools for disease management.

• If people are interested in this topic, what can they do to get involved in addition to submitting an abstract?

The HealthBOL discussion group is a fantastic way to meet people interested in the topic, and to search for potential collaborators.  http://connect.barcodeoflife.net/group/healthbol

Session Spotlight: FISH-BOL

June 11, 2011
Kris Jett

Kris Jett

Only five days left before abstract submission close! Remember, submit by midnight Eastern US Time on 15 June.

FISH-BOL


Session Spotlight

Session: FISH-BOL

Session Chair: Robert Hanner and Bob Ward

• What does your proposed session cover? Why is it important to barcoding?

The FISH-BOL workshop will cover the progress of the fish barcoding campaign from its inception in 2005. Much progress has been made (>8,000 of the 30,000+ fish species have been barcoded), but much remains to be done and some issues (especially pertaining to identification of some reference specimens) still need to be resolved. Fish barcoding is an important field for barcoding, as fish are so diverse (about 50% of all vertebrates) and highly important, both commercially and ecologically. Identification of processed and fragmentary remains can be done through barcoding, assisting management and market compliance, and egg and larval discrimination is readily achievable.

• What is your vision for the 4th Conference?

FISH-BOL is an international campaign, and I hope that interested parties come from around the world to share their experiences and visions for the future of FISH-BOL.

• What research do you do?

I am a geneticist and am primarily involved in fish and seafood barcoding. I work at CSIRO in Hobart (Tasmania) with a group of internationally-recognised fish taxonomists who recognize the importance of this approach to their endeavours.

• If people are interested in this topic, what can they do to get involved in addition to submitting an abstract?

They can contact either of the FISH-BOL chairs (myself and Paul Hebert) or the FISH-BOL campaign coordinator (Bob Hanner) or the chair of their regional FISH-BOL working group (see the FISH-BOL website: www.fishbol.org).

Session Spotlight: Algal Barcoding

June 10, 2011
Kris Jett

Kris Jett

The countdown to the deadline for abstract submission has begun! Remember, submit by midnight Eastern US Time on 15 June.

Line Le Gall, co-chair

Session Spotlight

Session: Algal Barcoding

Session Chair: Fred GurgelLine Le Gall, and Gary Saunders 

• What does your proposed session cover? Why is it important to barcoding?

Fred Gurgel (FG): Macroalgae in general, however all researchers who expressed interest in participating so far work with marine macroalgae only. Marine macroalgae refers to all macroscopic algae  (i.e. non-phytoplankton species) found in the marine environment.

Macroalgae are notoriously difficult to identify based on morphological characters alone. Most species present a wide range of intra-specific morphological plasticity, analogous characters are abundant among different species, most stable characters used in identification refer to the sexual reproductive structures which are often absent (e.g. juvenile or sterile plants are collected), and a plethora of cryptic and pseudo-cryptic species have been discovered based on preliminary DNA barcoding projects. DNA barcoding will allow rapid and reliable species assessment when morphology is not capable of doing so. This is particularly important not only for the identification of introduced and invasive species but also in the selection of strains of economical importance (e.g. selection of strains of farmed macroalgae for the production of agar, carraggenan, alginate, fishery fodder, bioremediation, biofuels, etc.)

Line Le Gall (LG): The algal session will focus on the new projects that have been initiated to conduct floristic studies in determined areas. The adjunction of the many ongoing projects make that  initiative the most comprehensive study of algal systematics. Algae are a very diverse groups of organisms. Indeed, in the current view of the tree of Life, there is algae in almost all lineages but the animals, fungi, and amoebozoa.

Gary Saunders (GS): Our session will highlight the photosynthetic protists or algae. Animals, fungi and plants are recent descendents from only two of some 36 evolutionarily diverse lineages of unicellular and simple multicellular organisms collectively termed protists. They are ubiquitous in the biosphere, found in every drop of water, pinch of soil, and living within animals, plants and even other protists. They are critical components of ecosystems and have many direct and indirect economic impacts. Photosynthetic protists, macroalgae and microalgae, outnumber heterotrophic species by tens of thousands and form the base of aquatic food webs, contribute 50% of global carbon fixation, oxygenate aquatic environments, provide intertidal habitat for larval stages of fish and invertebrate species, and are an underutilized resource. Despite considerable diversity and significance, protists, with their pervasive distribution and cryptic habit, are some of the least understood organisms from a biodiversity perspective. Many display unpredictable and periodic occurrence, intractability to culturing, and require advanced microscopy for identification. Generally considered to number 110,000 extant species, recent studies suggest that the true diversity may be as high as ten times that currently catalogued. In response to the previous challenges, protistan biologists have come to rely heavily on DNA analyses in efforts to establish how many photosynthetic protists are truly on the planet. The purpose of our symposium is to highlight advances made to date in the DNA barcoding of photosynthetic protists, emphasize secondary lessons and discoveries spawning from the growing sequence databases, and to explore options for future developments in this field.

• What is your vision for the 4th Conference?

FG: Bring together key international researchers working on different aspects of macroalgal DNA barcoding around the world to, whenever possible, work together towards: building a more comprehensive understating on how to improve macroalgal DNA barcoding (e.g. develop better primers), assess true levels of diversity within newly discovered species complexes, propose and agree on secondary markers for barcoding, pull datasets together to produce more comprehensive pictures of the diversity within particular taxa, etc.

LG: The fourth conference will take place relatively close to  the heart of marine diversity, the “coral triangle” and we hope that many people from the south Pacific and Indian Ocean will attend the conference.

GS: The best turnout from the protist community in the history of DNA barcoding. This will facilitate novel collaborations and synergies and facilitate a comprehensive discussion of marker selection and barcoding strategies. I am especially hopeful for a large cadre of seaweed systematists in honor of Prof. Womersley – a recently deceased icon in this field of research in Australia!

• What research do you do?

FG:  I current hold an ABRS grant to work on the DNA barcoding of the red macroalgae (a.k.a. Rhodophyta) of the Great Barrier Reef, and an ARC Linkage to work on the DNA barcode of the genus Caulerpa in Australia (the later a marine green macroalga, a.k.a. Chlorophyta).

LG: I study the diversity of the algae that occurs in France and DNA-barcoding is  a terrific tool to compare the Atlantic and the Mediterranean flora. I am also one of the curator of the PC herbarium.

GS: We are heavily involved in macroalgal systematics (in every sense of the word), but also more broadly involved in the realm of DNA barcoding as it applies to a wide diversity of photosynthetic protists (especially red, brown and green seaweeds, and the diatoms).

• If people are interested in this topic, what can they do to get involved in addition to submitting an abstract?

Submit an abstract through the on-line portal on the conference web-page. If you have questions feel free to contact one of the three organizers of our proposed session (Fred Gurgel – fred.gurgel@adelaide.edu.au, Line Le Gall – legall@mnhn.fr, or Gary Saunders – gws@unb.ca). We hope to have a substantial turnout from the algal community!

Session Spotlight: Barcoding for Biosecurity

June 9, 2011
Kris Jett

Kris Jett

Only six days left before abstract submission close! Remember, submit by midnight Eastern US Time on 15 June.

Andrew Mitchell


Session Spotlight

Session: Barcoding for Biosecurity

Session Chair: Andrew Mitchell

• What does your proposed session cover? Why is it important to barcoding?

The challenges faced by biosecurity barcoding. ‘Biosecurity’ in its broadest terms covers everything from bioterrorism and quarantine measures to on-farm control on insect pests. The world’s agroecosystems are coming under increasing pressure as populations continue to rise and climates change. Controlling pests and diseases and preventing their expansion into new areas is now more important than ever before. Barcoding has an obvious role to play in enabling and standardizing identification of pests and pathogens and biosecurity applications often feature prominently in accounts of the potential uses for DNA barcoding.  Compiling a DNA barcode database of the world’s most important pests, parasites and pathogens should be one of our top priorities. This session aims to highlight the challenges currently impeding the implementation of barcoding for biosecurity applications (be they regulatory, political, social, technical or other reasons) and discuss possible solutions. Presentations on recent advances in this field and future prospects are encouraged.  We would also like to hear about emerging campaigns to barcode economically important taxa and regional initiatives to barcode pest species.

• What is your vision for the 4th Conference?

The biosecurity session should provide an update on the state of the art and provide a forum for exchange of ideas. What has the international barcoding community been doing right and what areas could we improve in?  A break-out session to discuss the way forward for barcoding pests and diseases of importance to all nations is possible if enough people express interest.

• What research do you do?

I am an insect systematist with expertise in cutworm moths (Noctuidae) and interests in applying molecular systematics techniques such as DNA barcoding to solving problems of an ecological nature, especially in applied areas such as biological control of invasive species.  I do both traditional morphology-based taxonomic research and usually use barcoding to speed progress. My definition of barcoding is broader than many – I consider it to be the use of DNA sequence data, including of course the standard barcode locus/loci for a particular taxon, from vouchered specimens with the primary aim of identifying biodiversity.

• If people are interested in this topic, what can they do to get involved in addition to submitting an abstract?

Please e-mail me with any questions (andrew.mitchell@austmus.gov.au) otherwise just submit an abstract with the keyword ‘biosecurity’!

Session Spotlight: Barcoding Polar Life

June 9, 2011
Kris Jett

Kris Jett

Only seven days left before abstract submission close! Remember, submit by midnight Eastern US Time on 15 June.

Torbjørn Ekrem


Session Spotlight

Session: Barcoding Polar Life

Session Chair: Torbjørn Ekrem

• What does your proposed session cover? Why is it important to barcoding?

Our section on Polar Life covers barcode projects that involve organisms from the Artctic or the Antarctic. Barcoding projects in these fragile areas are important to document diversity and better facilitate monitoring of environmental change. The effects of climate change are expected to be severe in polar regions and it is therefore necessary that we have an accurate and effective identification system for organisms living there. The data collected also provide new knowledge of genetic variation within and between species with circumpolar distribution ranges.

• What is your vision for the 4th Conference?

I hope that the 4th International Conference on DNA barcoding will be as positive and interesting as past meetings and expect to learn more about both technical issues as well as results from empirical studies. I also hope that our session on Polar Life will expand the network of polar barcoders and pave the way for future collaboration in polar regions.

• What research do you do?

I work mainly with non-biting midges, flies of the family Chironomidae. These are abundant all over the world, but compared to insects they are particularly numerous and species rich in cold regions.

• If people are interested in this topic, what can they do to get involved in addition to submitting an abstract?

If people are interested in this topic, please visit our web-page (http://polarbarcoding.org/) or the Polar Life discussion group on connect.barcodeoflife.net (http://connect.barcodeoflife.net/group/polarlife) or send me an e-mail (torbjorn.ekrem@vm.ntnu.no).