Barcode Of Life

November 28, 2011 by staff 

Barcode Of Life, This week, more than 450 scientists and industry experts are to converge upon Australia’s University of Adelaide, for the fourth International Barcode of Life Conference. They will celebrate the boom in DNA barcoding, and discuss novel applications for the technology.

DNA barcoding essentially means identifying a species of animal, based on a snippet of DNA. A short genetic marker can be compared against the now bulging Barcode of Life Database — a comprehensive genome guide to more than 167,00 species — for identification within a few hours.

This burgeoning industry has rapidly grown to prominence in less than a decade. Back in 2003, Canadian biologist Paul Hebert proposed a public library of DNA barcodes, in a research paper, to “provide a new master key for identifying species”.

Eight years later, and it’s now something of a towering global enterprise. It’s led by the Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL) at the Smithsonian Institution, has been used in numerous research projects around the globe and, in October 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration officially approved its use in industry.

This could allow the barcoding technology to be used in restaurants to assure customers that the fillet or caviar they are being served is a genuine fancy fish, and not some local breed that’s been mislabeled and flogged to restaurants and suppliers by fraudsters.

David Schindel, executive secretary of the Consortium for the Barcode of Life, told the Associated Press that restaurant industry leaders and seafood suppliers have started discussions about using the technology to authenticate food. “We’re going to start seeing a self-regulating movement by the high-end trade, embracing barcoding as a mark of quality,” he claimed.

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