I recently met Karen James at the SBC. She is a scientist at The Natural History Museum, London and is also part of The HMS Beagle Project. That in itself is cool enough & I suggest you check out each of those entities, but in this blog I want to talk about something else she made me aware of: the Barcode of Life Data (BoLD) system. As I understand it, BoLD is a very cool data management system that allows the integration of DNA sequence data with its source specimen data for the documentation and analysis of both new and existing specimens in museum collections. The DNA sequence data comes in the form of DNA barcodes – short diagnostic sequences derived from the same locus for each specimen. The original barcoding paper established the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) gene as an appropriate locus for barcoding animals. The specimen cataloging includes all the normal metadata associated with the cataloging of a museum specimen. Combining the two not only allows for the addition of genetic information to traditional cataloging information, but also helps create a bioinformatics resource that can be used to help taxonomically identify other museum specimens for which you’ve obtained a barcode, but don’t have other identifying information.
Initially I was interested in this project because I have a soft spot for mitochondrial genes – I mapped a drug resistance gene to the mitochondria in a different life time (grad school) – but as I investigate further into DNA barcodes and the BoLD system I find interesting ideas around every corner. Here are a few of the places I’ve found to get information on DNA barcoding:
- Hebert PDN, Cywinska A, Ball SL, deWaard JR. (2003) Biological identifications through DNA barcodes. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2003;270:313–321. http://barcoding.si.edu/BackgroundPublications/Hebert_et_al_2003_DNABarcodes.pdf
- The Barcode Blog http://phe.rockefeller.edu/barcode/blog/
- The BOLD Systems http://www.barcodinglife.org/views/login.php
(note: I, Trey, added a photo of Cygnus buccinator -Trumpeter Swan if you haven’t guessed – and it’s corresponding barcode for some visual interest and because I find this topic so fascinating)
November 9, 2010 – update on barcoding: On September 25, 2010 the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) Project was launched as “an international effort to build a digital identification system for all life on Earth”. The BOLD system will act as a DNA barcode library of every species on Earth for the iBOL project.