Barcode Bulletin Vol. 3, No. 1 – March 2012


– Special Edition –


Major expansion planned for German node

FinBOL gets off to a fast start





. . . and the world

Nine labs now testing fillets for mislabelling

Pakistan to form barcode focal point
Two hundred attend symposium in Faisalbad

Dan Janzen honoured with BBVA Foundation award
Recognition for groundbreaking work in tropical ecology

Adelaide conference breaks all records
Global barcoding community gathers in South Australia

Barcoding Assitant helps to compile specimen metadata

iBOL advisor wins Russian “megagrant”
Stephen O’Brien leaves NCI after 25 years

Barcoding Life report documents a year of progress
Discoveries, applications and data acquisition

iBOL membership beckons for Switzerland

SwissBOL created at Geneva meeting

Switzerland has taken the first steps towards becoming a node of the International Barcode of Life Project (iBOL). Researchers and government officials who attended a meeting at the University of Geneva last fall agreed to form SwissBOL, a coordinated network to barcode Swiss biodiversity.

SwissBOL will have five main objectives:

  • • To build up a comprehensive DNA barcode reference library of species present in Switzerland and/or preserved in Swiss collections;
  • • To create a Swiss biodiversity DNA bank, in which the DNA extracted from barcoded specimens will be deposited;
  • • To develop and stimulate projects that use DNA barcoding in biodiversity surveys and environmental risk assessment;
  • • To extend DNA barcoding to the multi-locus approaches necessary to identify cryptic species that have arisen in the past few million years and will be easily achievable with Next Generation Sequencing applications;
  • • To join iBOL as an official member and integrate SwissBOL projects within ECBOL and the iBOL framework.

The Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) has expressed interest in the project and a funding proposal will be submitted once SwissBOL’s formal structure and organization have been established.

The Geneva meeting featured three guest speakers, iBOL Scientific Director Paul Hebert, Gerhard Haszpunar, of Barcoding Fauna Bavarica and Lorenzo Lombard, Coordinator of the European Consortium for the Barcode of Life (ECBOL). They were followed by presentations from six Swiss scientists who explained how they use barcoding in their research.

Only one Swiss institution, Agroscope ChanginsWädenswil ACW, is currently involved in an international barcoding project – the EU-FP7 Quarantine Barcoding of Life project (QBOL). All other barcoding activity derives from individual research projects.

Although it is generally assumed that the biodiversity of Switzerland is well known and that most species are easily identified, genetic data are available for few well-studied taxonomic groups and very little is known about the genetic structure and diversity within most described species. Moreover, the ability to harness next-gen sequencing tools for landscape-level biomonitoring is severely constrained without a barcode reference library.

Barcoding species-rich collections – including a remarkable number of type specimens – preserved in Swiss museums and herbaria would add huge value to past and ongoing taxonomic research.

(Adapted from ECBOL Newsletter – Issue 5)


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FDA using barcoding to spot fish fraud

Nine labs equipped for genetic testing

Efforts to promote DNA barcoding as a regulatory protocol have gained considerable traction following two recent developments.

First, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched a barcode-based testing program to clamp down on seafood fraud. Then a Canadian seafood importer began barcode testing imports from China to guard against species substitution.

The FDA started pulling seafood samples from warehouses and distribution centres across the United States in November, putting into practice its new DNA barcode identification program aimed at reducing species substitution, mislabeling and other types of fraud.

The FDA Office of Regulatory Science has announced that nine labs are now set up to generate barcode sequences of seafood samples to determine if they are labeled correctly. Officials say they are targeting cod, grouper, snapper, tuna and other high-value species which are more likely to be substituted.

According to a report in Scientific American magazine, the FDA has been looking into DNA barcoding since 2007, when toxic puffer fish from China entered the country labeled as monkfish and sickened several people.

FDA scientists collaborated with researchers at the Anglicization at the University of Guelph, the main sequencing facility for the FISH-BOL initiative to barcode all the world’s fish species.

The FDA worked with the Smithsonian Institution’s Laboratories for Analytical Biology and the Division of Fishes to establish its own fish barcode sequence reference library containing sequences for 250 species of frequently consumed fish, each identified by an expert using a reference specimen from the Smithsonian.

The public library went online November 1, just one week after a major exposé in the Boston Globe, using barcode data generated at CCDB, found that fish bought at Boston area restaurants was mislabeled about half the time.

FDA research biologist and project head Jonathan Deeds said that a DNA barcode test on a fish sample costs only $10 (not including labour and supplies) compared with tests for contaminants such as PCBs or PAHs, which can run as high as $1,000.

949-377-7251 spokesman Gavin Gibbons said the low cost of barcode testing could have a big impact on the enforcement of labeling rules. “If we get to a point where there are hundreds or thousands of samples flowing into FDA labs, [testing and enforcement] could have a substantial impact on fraud.”

The FDA is also developing a crustacean database covering species like shrimp, lobster and crab and Deeds says he expects the library to double in size in the next few months. The FDA is also considering using barcoding to detect other mislabeled products such as pet foods and wild game meat.


Meanwhile, the Victoria-based seafood importer Tradex Foods in December implemented DNA testing on fish imports, the 6392452054 reported.

Samples taken at processing facilities in China are flown to the United States and tested by a US sequencing and analysis company while the fish itself is in transit to North America by ship. Between 10 and 30 samples are analyzed each month at about $70 per sample.

“A big part of our business model is centred around eliminating fraud which is rampant in our industry,” said Tradex spokesperson Ryan McKay.

The (254) 344-4277 is currently conducting trials to determine whether it should follow the FDA’s lead and adopt DNA barcoding as a regulatory protocol for seafood. According to the Vancouver Sun report, the CFIA inspects 5,000 lots of imported fish each year from over 1,000 importers and also performs periodic inspections of fish retailers. The agency maintains that the vast majority of fish sampled and analyzed are accurately labelled.

But tests conducted at the CCDB say otherwise. A study published in the October, 2011 edition of the scientific journal Mitochondrial DNA found that 25 to 41 per cent of samples — submitted from across the country by news organizations including The Vancouver Sun between 2008 and 2010 — were mislabelled.

The authors compared the DNA analysis of the samples with the CFIA’s guide for interpreting “false, misleading or deceptive” names.

“High value species are most subject to substitution,” said lead author Dr. Robert Hanner, associate director of the Canadian Barcode of Life Network at the University of Guelph. “But we’ve seen substitution in all categories, wild-caught and aquaculture.”


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iBOL partner makes fruit fly discovery

Barcodes identify pest in southern Germany

(618) 449-2894
German researchers working with the International Barcode of Life project (iBOL) have produced the first genetic evidence that an invasive and highly destructive fruit fly is now present in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg.

Researchers from the Bavarian State Collection in Munich used DNA barcoding to identify the spotted-wing Drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, native to East Asia but now a widespread and costly pest in North America and, more recently, in southern Europe. It causes massive damage to soft fruit and berry crops and can also infest vineyards.


Click photo to enlarge


Fly expert Dieter Doczkal, who found the specimen near Rastatt in Baden-Württemberg last fall, was collecting insects for the (802) 216-9058 (BFB) project, an important collaborator of the International Barcoding of Life project (iBOL). iBOL is a global partnership of researchers dedicated to building a DNA barcode reference library for 500,000 animal, plant and fungal species by 2015, focusing on species of particular environmental and socio-economic significance.

Among the important applications of DNA barcode technology is the ability to make rapid and accurate identifications of invasive species with the potential to inflict huge losses on agriculture and forestry industries.

The results have been reported to the plant protection service in Baden-Württemberg and the Julius-Kühn Institute (for national and international plant health relations), which also found spotted wing Drosophila at three sites in southern Germany last fall.


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