Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genetic Markers for Tracking Species

25.04.2012
At the supermarket checkout, hardly anybody enters prices manually anymore. Using scanners that can read the barcodes is much faster.
Biologists now want to use a similar procedure for identifying domestic animal and plant species more efficiently. German Barcode of Life (GBOL) is the name of an initiative on which zoologists and botanists are collaborating in Germany. Botanists from the University of Bonn have taken the lead for the flora. The overall coordination of the GBOL Project lies with the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig in Bonn.

"In the DNA of living beings, we have identified sections as »DNA barcodes« that, while being almost identical within a certain species, differ among the various species," explained Prof. Dr. Dietmar Quandt from the Nees Institute for Biodiversity of Plants at the University of Bonn. "Based on these markers, we can then identify species unambiguously and relatively fast." The result of this analysis resembles a barcode at the supermarket; only that it does not come in black and white, but in four colors, with each one corresponding to one of the four letters of the genetic code.

What counts is only (the genetic) make-up

In classical biological taxonomy, animals and plants are identified by their external characteristics. "It is in species of a genus that resemble each other very closely, such as sedges, that definite identification can be a very long process," reported Prof. Quandt, Speaker for the botanical project within the GBOL Initiative. "In addition, we have to rely on competent experts here, who unfortunately are a dying breed nationally." Fully automated sequencing of DNA, however, allows identifying plants much faster. "Besides, we do not need flowering and complete plants," added Stefanie Winter, one of Prof. Quandt's doctoral candidates. "A tiny fragment, e.g., from a leaf, is sufficient for identifying the species based on its genetic markers."

More than 5,000 plant species to be collected

In the GBOL Project, the scientists first want to create a library of sample material for classifying the species. In a concerted initiative with the natural history museums, nature conservancy organizations and proven experts, specific plant samples will be catalogued throughout Germany. "For this purpose, the natural history collections have proven to be invaluable treasure troves since they are providing us with some of their priceless samples," said Prof. Quandt. The challenge is enormous: There are about 4,000 flowering plants in Germany, as well as 1,300 species of mosses and ferns.

Project to Improve Monitoring of the Environment
Capturing our flora by means of DNA barcodes is intended to make monitoring environmental effects easier: How do individual species respond to climate change? Are certain species being replaced by living organisms that have been imported from other countries? Which species are threatened with extinction? "Given the many threats for life on Earth, environmental monitoring is becoming more important," said Prof. Quandt. "The DNA barcodes can simplify and accelerate such studies considerably."

Botanical Project Supported with 850,000 Euros

The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) is supporting the collection of plant DNA barcodes in Germany with approximately 850,000 Euros. This botanical research network also includes the Botanical Garden Berlin (BGBM, Freie Universität Berlin), the Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity (University of Münster), the Stuttgart State Museum of Natural History, as well as the Albrecht-von-Haller-Institut für Pflanzenwissenschaften (University of Göttingen). Overall coordination of the GBOL Project lies with the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig in Bonn.

Contact:

Prof. Dr. Dietmar Quandt
University of Bonn
Nees Institute for Biodiversity of Plants
Ph.: +49 228/733315
Email: quandt@uni-bonn.de

Dr. Stephanie Pietsch
Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig
Museumsmeile Bonn
Adenauerallee 160
D-53113 Bonn
Email: info@bol-germany.de

Johannes Seiler | idw
Further information:
http://www.bolgermany.de/
http://www.uni-bonn.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cells communicate in a dynamic code
19.02.2018 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells
19.02.2018 | Biophysical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Contacting the molecular world through graphene nanoribbons

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

When Proteins Shake Hands

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

Cells communicate in a dynamic code

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>