The director of the International Barcoding of Life (iBOL) consortium Paul Hebert (University of Guelph, Canada) visited Helsinki between May 16-17. There were many interesting discussions and some media interest. Paul also gave an interesting lecture of the international DNA barcoding activities.
The summary of Paul’s lecture is as follows:
Despite 250 years of scientific effort, most species remain unknown. However, the last three decades have seen a radical advance in our understanding of biodiversity, reflecting the increasing ease of accessing DNA sequences. The earliest and most dramatic impacts involved the smallest organisms. Twenty years ago, DNA analysis provided the first glimpses of vast empires of tiny life – archaeal, bacterial and protistan. However, it
is now clear that sequence diversity in short genomic regions, DNA barcodes, can also be a powerful tool in revealing the diversity of multi-cellular life, by easing the identification of known species and expediting the discovery of new ones. Motivated by a desire to understand biodiversity and the forces that have shaped it, a major DNA barcode program is now underway. Expect a barcode library for 500K species by 2015. Expect automated systems supporting both field identifications and massive biodiversity screens by
2020. Expect a barcoded world by 2030.