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FISH-BOL: NOAA researchers help build a global reference library of DNA barcodes
Date:4/18/2008

an specimens be identified as part of a known species using only a tiny piece of tissue from the organism, but new variations in what was thought to be a single species can be determined. Tissue from unidentified specimens can also be matched to the DNA sequence of a known species in the reference library, a process that currently takes just a few hours and a few dollars but soon may take only minutes and cost pennies.

Barcode records of each specimen contain the DNA sequence, information about the voucher or referenced specimen, and the species name. The records are stored in three global databases and are available without charge. As an electronic database, FISH-BOL contains DNA barcodes, images and geographic information of examined specimens, as well as linkages to the voucher specimens, information on species distributions, nomenclature, taxonomic information, natural history information and literature citations.

"Barcoding works for all stages in the life cycle, so it will help us identify larval fish, which is timely since many leaders in larval fish taxonomy are retiring, Collette said. It can also differentiate between closely related species that are hard to tell apart, especially large specimens that are difficult to bring back from the field. And it can positively identify fishery products like fish fillets so you know if the grouper you ordered in a restaurant is really grouper."

For fishery managers and researchers, barcoding can legally verify identifications of fishes caught as by-catch and species under regulation, important to protecting endangered species and sustaining fish populations.

Collette and researchers at NSL have already started adding to the voucher specimens at the National Museum of Natural History by barcoding fishes in the Gulf of Maine and western North Atlantic. So far, tissues have been collected from 508 specimens representing 162 species, including 101 species from the Gulf of Maine out of t
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Contact: Shelley Dawicki
shelley.dawicki@noaa.gov
508-495-2378
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service
Source:Eurekalert

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