University of Guelph reports
It will now be possible to genetically differentiate the more than 400,000 species of land plants in the world thanks to DNA barcoding, a revolutionary technique invented at the University of Guelph.
An international team of 52 scientists – including seven from U of G – has concluded a four-year effort to find a standard “plant DNA barcode.” Their findings appear in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the world’s most-cited multidisciplinary scientific serials.
The research involved scientists from 10 countries. Significant elements of data gathering and analysis were conducted at the Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding (CCDB), which is based at U of G’s Biodiversity Institute of Ontario.
Peter Hollingsworth, head of genetics and conservation at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh who led the international research team, added: “Identification is important. It’s not possible to know if a plant is common or rare, poisonous or edible, being traded legally or illegally etc., unless it can be identified. But identification can be difficult: there are a large number of plant species and some look very similar.”
Other universities involved in the study are: the University of British Columbia, University of Toronto, University of Johannesburg, Korea University, Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana, Universidad de Costa Rica, Columbus State University, University of Wisconsin, Universidad de los Andes Aberystwyth University, University of Cape Town, Hallym University, Seoul National University, University of Copenhagen, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Imperial College London. Agencies that participated in the research include the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the Smithsonian Institution, the Natural History Museum in London, the South African National Biodiversity Institute, the Natural History Museum of Denmark and the New York Botanical Garden.