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Barcoding the world's trees

Botanists from all over the world have convened in New York City and are hammering out plans to assemble a DNA-based linkurl:catalog;http://www.the-scientist.com/2007/12/1/36/1/ of the Earth's tree species. The scientists met yesterday (May 1) and are meeting today (May 2) at the New York Botanical Garden to discuss an effort to barcode - or identify using short, standardized stretches of genetic material - all 100,000 or so tree species on the planet. The project is called Tree-BOL, for the tr

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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Botanists from all over the world have convened in New York City and are hammering out plans to assemble a DNA-based linkurl:catalog;http://www.the-scientist.com/2007/12/1/36/1/ of the Earth's tree species. The scientists met yesterday (May 1) and are meeting today (May 2) at the New York Botanical Garden to discuss an effort to barcode - or identify using short, standardized stretches of genetic material - all 100,000 or so tree species on the planet. The project is called Tree-BOL, for the tree barcode of life, and will join the ranks of similar efforts, such as linkurl:FISH-BOL;http://www.fishbol.org/ and linkurl:ABBI;http://www.barcodingbirds.org/ (All Birds Barcoding Initiative), seeking to catalog Earth's biodiversity. There is, however, a catch to linkurl:barcoding plants.;http://www.the-scientist.com/2007/12/1/36/102/ While most animal species can be barcoded and differentiated on the species level using a universal stretch of DNA - the linkurl:__CO1__;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53599/ mitochondrial gene - plants, with their variable speciation rates and habit of hybridizing, show little variation...

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