Botany barcoding in the works

Birch barkode?
Birch barkode?Courtesy Mark Ryan
A group of international scientists are planning to barcode the DNA of all of Earth's plant-life so a library can be established that will make it easier for botanists to identify plants. A standard barcode cataloging of a plant's genetic make-up would make it easier to identify it from fragments or from premature forms such as seeds or spores. It could also aide in halting the illegal trade of both indigenous and invasive species. Dr Peter Hollingsworth, head of genetics and conservation at the Royal Botanic Garden, in Scotland and the lead author of the study, says identification is important.

"It is the link between a given plant and the accumulated information available for that species," he said. "It is not possible to know whether a plant is common or rare, poisonous or edible, being traded legally or illegally, unless it can be identified."

The findings appear in the recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Go here to read more.

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