About 350 DNA barcoding experts from 46 nations will converge in Taipei amid spiralling interest from health officials, government agencies and others beginning to realize potential applications in a range of areas -- from consumer protection and food safety to disease prevention and better environmental monitoring.
Specifically, this burgeoning three-year-old scientific field could, among many other things, help get illegal fish and timber out of global markets, slow the spread of invasive pests, reduce bird-plane collisions, and uncover the hideouts of medically-important species of mosquito.
Government agencies, particularly in North America but elsewhere as well, are expanding investments in applications for the new technologies that identify and distinguish known and unknown species ever more quickly, cheaply, easily and accurately based on snippets of DNA code.
The science has grown from a single research paper in 2003 to a burgeoning global enterprise in 2007, led by the Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL) with 160 member organizations from 50 countries (up from 42 member organizations from 18 countries in 2005).
In 2005, there were 33,000 records covering 12,700 species in the Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) at the University of Guelph, Canada. Today over 290,000 records have been banked, representing over 31,000 species, and data accumulate at an accelerating pace (see www.barcodinglife.org/views/taxbrowser_root.php).
During the 2nd International Barcode of Life Conference (Taipei, Sept. 18-20; see: www.dnabarcodes2007.org), experts will assess progress and global priorities, share latest insights and techniques among the swelling ranks of interested scientists and officials, and air views on a host of questions swirling around the new scientific field.
Says conference organizer David Schindel, Executive Secretary of the CBOL, based at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington,
|Contact: Terry Collins|
Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL)