The Smithsonian has been involved in DNA barcoding since the technique was first proposed in 2003. The Smithsonian houses the Laboratories of Analytical Biology (LAB)one of two North American barcode factories with the capacity to generate hundreds of thousands of barcodes per year.
The Smithsonian also plays a key role in coordinating the growing international research network and in making the technology available to scientists in other countries. Many of the countries where the need is greatest lack the scientific infrastructure for barcoding research.
We need to take the biotechnology to the biodiversity, said Lee Weigt, director of the LAB at the Smithsonian. The lab has developed inexpensive field kits for extracting DNA and Web-based training videos. Whether you are working in a building with electricity, off the hood of your vehicle in the jungle or on a research boat, we have experience at all levels that we can pass on, he added.
Smithsonian scientist Carla Dove and colleagues recently completed barcoding North American bird species, with support from the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority and the U.S. Air Force. Aircraft collisions with birds are hazardous; knowing which birds are most often struck and the timing, altitude and routes of their migrations could avert some of the thousands of annual collisions between birds and military and civilian aircraft. Scientists use barcoding to identify species from blood and tissue on the aircraft.
DNA barcoding is the newest tool in the feather identification toolbox and allows us to obtain species level identifications in about 68 percent of the cases that we submit for DNA analysis, Dove said. That is a major breakthrough for this field of study and will benefit aviation safety on a global scale.
The Mosquito Barcode Initiative is one of the largest projects under way. Mosquitoes are important vectors of disease, but eve
|Contact: Michele Urie|