1 Tahrcountry Musings: DNA bar-coding hitches

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

DNA bar-coding hitches

The ambitious project to DNA barcode all species (International Barcode of Life) has run in to a bit of rough weather. Scientists use a portion of the gene found in an organism's mitochondria for bar-coding. A new study by Brigham Young University has shown that the current techniques can mistakenly record the "broken" copy of the gene found in the nucleus of the organism's cells. This lapse will make present bar-coding technique to call it another unique species by mistake. This could lead to overestimating the number of species. To overcome this hitch, Brigham Young University has recommended specific quality control procedures to ensure that correct genes are captured. The day is not far off when a handheld device like a supermarket scanner is used to identify species. All that needs to be done is to compare the DNA marker from an organism with the known encyclopedia of life and immediately come out the species' name. 400,000 species have already been bar-coded to date. Exciting times are ahead for field biology scientists.


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