If cereal can be barcoded, so can
The point of the Barcode of Life Initiative, to be based at NMNH, is to sequence one, or several, common mitochondrial genes and compile a sequence database from identified voucher specimens. A researcher could process a tissue sample from an organism or its parts taken from the field, a museum collection, or from court-case evidence, and compare it with the known database.
The organizers are concentrating on the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene. Lead investigator Scott Miller of NMNH notes that in most cases, there's more than a 2% sequence variation in that gene between related organisms of two different species. He has looked at these sequences in insects in New Guinea and says he has confirmed the differences. Fellow consortium member and
Miller and Hébert figure that once the technology is perfected, someone with no systematics background can take a portable instrument into the field, extract DNA and the COI sequence, and compare it with the database entries.
- Myrna E. Watanabe