Archive for the ‘Session Spotlight’ Category

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).

Session Spotlight: Citizen Science, Outreach and Education

June 8, 2011
Kris Jett

Kris Jett

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

Karen James


Session Spotlight

Session: Citizen Science, Outreach and Education

Session Chair: Karen James

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

I’m moderating a session on citizen science, outreach and education. These topics are of central importance to two of the most compelling aspirations of the DNA barcoding community: overcoming the taxonomic impediment and engendering public appreciation of biodiversity.

Overcoming the taxonomic impediment

Through habitat destruction, invasive species, over-exploitation, climate change and overpopulation, the human species is in the process of inducing the sixth great mass extinction in the history of life on Earth. Because of a shortage of trained taxonomists, however, we haven’t even completed a one-off inventory of life on Earth (1.8 million multicellular organisms are known to science; this is probably just 1-10% of the actual number), much less the regular monitoring of changes in that inventory needed to assess and predict how organisms respond to change. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity has called this knowledge gap ‘the taxonomic impediment‘ and affirms that “the inability [of non-taxonomists] to identify, or obtain identifications of, species is a major component of the taxonomic impediment”.

To overcome the taxonomic impediment and create a responsive worldwide monitoring system for biodiversity, the CBD endorses a strategy of empowering non-taxonomists to identify organisms. This will require at least two components: 1) effective, evidence-based, transferable approaches for recruiting and equipping these non-taxonomists to function as relatively autonomous ‘citizen scientists’ who can identify living organisms and readily share these IDs (plus location and other meta data) with the global scientific community and 2) accessible tools, such as easy-to-use identification guides and DNA-based identification devices to facilitate identifications and information transfer.

Thus by combining citizen science and DNA barcoding, we have the potential to play a significant role in overcoming the taxonomic impediment to inventory and monitor multicellular life in a rapidly changing environment.

Engendering public appreciation of biodiversity

A key justification for DNA barcoding is its potential to increase and improve public engagement with the natural world by “empowering many more people to call by name the species around them” (Barcode of Life: Ten Reasons). The mission of the DNA barcoding community is not only to assemble barcode reference libraries and develop technology and encourage global participation of taxonomists, but also to promote “the use of DNA barcoding for the benefit of science and society” (CBOL Mission Statement).

Citizen science, outreach and education initiatives that involve DNA barcoding are not only aiding in the development of approaches to engage non-taxonomists to overcome the taxonomic impediment, as discussed above, but are, at the same time, creating opportunities for students and members of the public to become meaningfully engaged with science and the natural environment.

• What is your vision for the 4th Conference?

In general I am hopeful that the 4th conference will indicate a continuation along the growth trajectory established by the first three. I’m looking forward to the talks from researchers from around the world working in a variety of taxa and contexts and making exciting progress over the last two years in building DNA barcode reference libraries to enable future (and in some cases present) identification of query sequences.

More specifically, for my session, I hope to learn about both established and new projects that engage students and members of the public in DNA barcoding, whether through participation in the development of DNA barcode reference libraries or through the use of those libraries for an application of economic or social importance. I hope there will be some movement towards the systematic evaluation of both the contributions by and benefits to participants, and a discussion on how these data can be used to develop ‘best practice’ in engaging non-experts in DNA barcoding, including the development of a range of tools to support these projects.

And of course on a personal level I am looking forward to meeting and perhaps starting new collaborations with like-minded researchers, and to reuniting with friends and colleagues from around the world.

• What research do you do?

After seven years at the Natural History Museum in London, I have recently repatriated to the United States and started a fellowship at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory (MDIBL) in Maine.

While at the Natural History Museum I worked on a range of molecular projects spanning the disciplines of systematics, evolution and developmental biology. Among these was the incorporation of DNA barcoding in a plant inventory of a meadow at Darwin’s historic home, Down House, the data from which was included in the Plant Working Group’s 2009 paper in PNAS recommending matK and rbcL as plant barcode loci. In 2009, in collaboration with the Cothill Educational Trust, I developed a new educational DNA barcoding project, Tree School, which I spoke about at the 2009 conference, which will just be coming to the end of its first  of three years of funding in November.

At MDIBL, I am working closely with Acadia National Park to develop a new project that will engage park visitors in biodiversity inventories and monitoring, featuring a DNA barcoding component. With its remarkable concentration of scientific research and educational institutes, and 2.5 million visitors every year, I believe the Acadia region is well suited to become a focal point for research and implementation in combining citizen science with DNA-based  biological identification.

I am also Director of Science for The HMS Beagle Trust, a UK charity raising funds and developing international relationships (with Chile, in particular) to rebuild HMS Beagle and retrace Darwin’s voyage doing science and public engagement. I hope that this project will provide a compelling platform for biodiversity research including DNA barcoding. Through this project I am collaborating with NASA on a science, education and public relations project related to human exploration and Earth observation.

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

Obviously, I hope they will attend and perhaps submit an abstract to the citizen science, outreach and education session at the conference in Adelaide. They can also get involved via the Education, Outreach and Citizen Science Group on Connect.BarcodeOfLife.net.  I also encourage the DNA barcoding community to consider involving students and other citizen scientists in their projects as not only end users of DNA barcode reference libraries, but also as participants in their assembly.

Session Spotlight: Barcoding Museum/Herbarium Material

June 8, 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.

Kyle Armstrong, co-chair Barcoding Museum/Herbarium Material

Session Spotlight

Session: Barcoding Museum/Herbarium Material

Session Chair: Kyle Armstrong, Steven Cooper, Hugh Cross and Steve Donnellan

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

Linking DNA barcodes with the established taxonomic framework is of fundamental importance, and the value of natural history collections is greater than ever because of the possibilies that new techniques and techologies bring. The focus of this session will be primarily on techniques for recovering DNA sequences from specimens in natural history collections. Certain species might only be represented by specimens from which the recovery of DNA is challenging because they are old, degraded or mixed in containers with other species. Ideally, the talks will present experiences with both problems and solutions involving non-amplification of barcodes, and contamination of samples from sources in both the collection and the laboratory. Experience with high throughput systems would also be a welcome addition, since there can be challenges for minimising contamination when processes involving low copy number templates are scaled up. If there is sufficient time, the end of the session might be devoted to audience participation through a discussion of some of these issues.

• What is your vision for the 4th Conference?

We hope that this conference will encourage collaboration and integration of efforts to make the best use of resources available for DNA barcoding. We see the value in developing collaborations across institutions and regions, since the focus of many projects is not restricted by national boundaries. In addition, we hope that this conference will provide the opportunity for detailed discussion, both during and after the conference, of some of the practical issues involved in deriving DNA barcodes from specimens in natural history collections.

• What research do you do?

The symposium organisers Armstrong, Cross, Donnellan and Cooper are involved in several relevant areas of research, including the sequencing of various DNA markers from taxonomically informative museum and herbarium specimens, metagenomic studies involving the barcoding of stomach contents to determine the diet of camels, and barcoding projects focusing on frogs, mammals, flora of arid areas, grasses and trees in Australia and the Australasian region. In all of these projects, natural history collections are of paramount importance, and our collective experience in troubleshooting the amplification of difficult DNA templates was the impetus for this session.

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

People interested in this session are encouraged to contact the organisers, especially with queries regarding possible presentations, and by contributing their thoughts on discussion topics before and during the conference. Overall, we hope that participants will be open to developing working groups or wikis so that everyone can benefit from a collective experience in technical matters of DNA amplification from natural history collections in the future.

Session Spotlight: Barcoding Biotas

June 3, 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.

Session Spotlight

Session: Barcoding Biotas

Session Chair: Sally Adamowicz and Chris Meyer

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

Sally Adamowicz (SA): “Barcoding Biotas” refers to conducting an all-taxon biodiversity inventory of a selected region using DNA barcoding methods. This approach represents an important complement to the taxon-focused global campaigns more typical in the barcoding community. There are few, if any, regions in the world where we truly have an understanding of the extent of cohabiting biodiversity across taxa. This is important for understanding ecosystem complexity as well as for predicting the scale of the task for ultimately barcoding all species on the planet. Barcoding Biotas also represents a program in which methods are developed for future barcoding surveys.

Chris Meyer (CM): Unlike most other campaigns that are taxonomically focused, Barcoding Biotas focuses on entire ecosystems. In the face of likely significant global change in the coming century, it is critical we understand ecosystem functioning and the roles that various taxa play within those complex adaptive systems. It is difficult to say how much biodiversity is needed to maintain ecosystem services if you don’t know how much diversity is there in the first place. In the process of digitizing all macrobial species in an ecosystem, we cannot ignore the difficult groups – we are challenged to create barcode libraries for all phyla encountered. The success we have in tackling this challenge will have immense spillover effects to other similar ventures, not just in the molecular challenges, but also in standardizing collection effort to make comparisons across latitudes, longitudes, habitats and domains.

• What is your vision for the 4th Conference?

SA: During the 4th conference, this session will be a venue for presenting research results from two intensively studied sites (Churchill, Manitoba, Canada and Moorea, French Polynesia) as well as a place for dissemination of results and proposed plans for incipient Barcoding Biotas projects elsewhere in the world. This will be a setting for sharing insights gained from these intensive surveys as well as for discussing research remaining to be done. Sharing expertise and planning field exchanges would be an excellent way to attempt to “complete” the surveys of single sites. My vision for the session is that we should go beyond species counts for these sites to discuss insights into ecology and evolution and to discuss ways of using the baseline data for monitoring and deeper understanding of life.

CM: I think we’ll see a shift, at least in our session, from building the reference library – writing the book, so to speak, to using the library. We will see uses of regional barcode libraries to build food webs, test ecologic theories about functional redundancy and trophic species, and model complex adaptive networks. We have started to look at community assembly processes, e.g. competition vs. niche-conservatism, in standardized collection units. We are beginning to get a handle on the variation in both time and space of biodiversity writ large, and that’s pretty exciting. Various collection techniques will be compared to test the efficiency of documenting diversity, for instance comparing standard adult-based voucher collecting versus plantkonic larval collections. We will see the utility of intelligently designing molecular techniques based of well fleshed out reference libraries that minimize primer bias, false negatives and test the accuracy of relative abundance data generated from blender based approaches.

• What research do you do?

SA: In addition to co-ordinating the Barcoding Biotas program at Churchill, I conduct research on phylogenetic community assembly patterns. My students and I aim to understand the relative roles of abiotic factors and biological interactions such as competition and predation in structuring communities. MSc Candidate Elizabeth Boyle is undertaking a detailed investigation of macro-invertebrate communities in Churchill’s freshwater environments.

CM: My background is in phylogenetic systematics and I still conduct comprehensive phylogenetic analyses of interesting reef-associated groups, mostly gastropods, in order to compare and contrast processes that generated and maintain those patterns. Recently, a good chunk of my focus has shifted to take on the challenge of characterizing biodiversity as digital signatures such that we can sample diversity like we sample temperature. As the director of the Biocode Project, I am interested in the efficiencies of conducting All Taxonomic Biodiversity Inventories; what’s the best way to write the book? But then how can we best use that book and engage new technologies to test fundamental questions about how ecosystems are structured and how they work? We are testing a number of comparative methods of sampling diversity, standardized approaches in the field that capture a sufficient snapshot of ecosystems in time and space so we can use that information to inform ecosystem functioning; everything from tows, traps, cores and guts.

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

SA: Interested researchers could

  • identify barcoded specimens from their taxonomic groups of expertise and collaborate in data analysis.
  • promote barcoding as a tool for biodiversity surveys.
  • participate in other new Barcoding Biotas surveys as a contributing expert.
  • co-ordinate barcoding efforts within their own countries to conduct “Barcoding Biotas” surveys of focal regions. (You could always start by speaking with your national iBOL representative to find out about or to propose intensive surveys of particular sites.)

CM: Great suggestions Sally – I couldn’t agree more with your suggestion to get in touch with either local efforts or co-ordinate efforts within country to address diversity in focal regions. Both Sally and I can assist in that, and point people in the the right directions, either to persons or resources. These concentrated heavily characterized (barcoded) biotas will attract research and become focal point for future monitoring of ecosystem health in a changing biosphere. Come to session and ask questions, or use the Connect Site to get in touch.

Session Spotlight: Barcoding Fungi

June 1, 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.

Barcoding Fungi

Session Spotlight

Session: Barcoding Fungi

Session Chair: Pedro Crous, Conrad Schoch and Keith Seifert

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

The fungal sessions will introduce the officially selected fungal barcode marker, the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) of the ribosomal DNA. This marker has a long history of application in fungal taxonomy and is one of the primary markers in environmental metagenomics involving fungi. With up to 1.5 million species, fungi are a large kingdom of mostly microorganisms that have so far largely been overlooked in DNA barcoding studies, although large scale ecological sampling has been underway for a while. As critical components of the biosphere, with many different biological roles, fungal barcoding should assume a high profile in the overall barcoding initiative. We will demonstrate the diversity of current projects in mycology related to health, trade, quarantine and many other aspects, as it relates to DNA barcoding.

• What is your vision for the 4th Conference?

We need to spread the message that mycologists have selected the ITS as the official fungal barcode, so that barcoders working at particular sites or on particular niches will be able to include fungi in their studies. We also need to make it possible for mycologists to play a more prominent role in the barcoding movement; many mycologists are waiting for the formalities to be completed so that they can begin contributing data. We expect that a significant number of fungal ITS barcodes will be released to coincide with the Conference, and that the number will continue to increase rapidly after the congress. It is also our intent to spur the expansion of collaboration amongst diverse groups of mycologists spanning the globe.

• What research do you do?

Crous, Schoch and Seifert are all fungal taxonomists mixing classical and molecular taxonomy. Schoch is also the mycological curator at GenBank.

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

There is an active Fungal group on Barcode Connect (Fungi) and a dedicated website housing a fungal barcode database built from data contributed by volunteers working on the official declaration of a fungal barcode: www.fungalbarcoding.org. The CBOL Fungal Working Group has mostly used this venue for its communication. We expect that the usefulness of this Group will continue to be enhanced once barcoding of fungi gains momentum.