'Barcoding blitz' on Australian moths and butterflies

May 05, 2011
An Emperor Gum Moth, Opodiphthera eucalypti, well camouflaged amongst Eucalyptus foliage on which they feed Image: CSIRO

In just 10 weeks a team of Canadian researchers has succeeded in 'barcoding' 28,000 moth and butterfly specimens – or about 65 per cent of Australia’s 10,000 known species – held at CSIRO's Australian National Insect Collection (ANIC) in Canberra.

Conducted in collaboration with the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) as part of the International Barcode of Life (IBoL), the project involved extracting DNA from each specimen to record its unique genetic code and entering the results, together with an image and other details, to the ALA and ANIC databases.

ANIC is the first national collection to integrate the new barcoding approach for a major group of insects.

The Collection's Director, Dr John La Salle, said DNA barcoding is a kind of ‘genetic fingerprinting’ which has proven useful in identifying different forms of life.

"Barcoding will be critically important to our goal of being able to rapidly identify most organisms on the planet within the next decade or so," Dr La Salle said.

"This will produce strong benefits for entomology, life sciences and biosecurity."

He said barcoding has already achieved some interesting successes in, for example, Europe and the US where it is being used to investigate food fraud, such as selling one type of fish as another type of fish.

According to Atlas of Living Australia Director, Donald Hobern, many moths and are of economic and/or environmental importance to Australia.

"Using barcoding for rapid identification will transform how we handle monitoring of biodiversity across Australia and how we respond to potential pest arrivals at Australian borders," Mr Hobern said.

"Barcoding for rapid species identification is a powerful new tool which will also assist taxonomists in recognising and describing new species."

Explore further: USDA seizes more than 1,200 illegal giant snails

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Building a digital library for life on Earth

Sep 24, 2010

The largest biodiversity genomics initiative ever undertaken - an international effort to build a digital identification system for all life on Earth - will be officially activated this week.

Global barcode project to scan plants in the wild

Dec 16, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A cheap and fast method of identifying the world's most important plants in the wild could soon be possible, thanks to a global project involving the University of Adelaide.

Barcoding endangered sea turtles

Sep 14, 2009

Conservation geneticists who study sea turtles have a new tool to help track this highly migratory and endangered group of marine animals: DNA barcodes. DNA barcodes are short genetic sequences that efficiently ...

DNA 'barcode' for tropical trees

Nov 04, 2009

In foods, soil samples or customs checks, plant fragments sometimes need to be quickly identified. The use of DNA “barcodes” to itemize plant biodiversity was proposed during the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Summit. ...

Recommended for you

Flapping baby birds give clues to origin of flight

13 hours ago

How did the earliest birds take wing? Did they fall from trees and learn to flap their forelimbs to avoid crashing? Or did they run along the ground and pump their "arms" to get aloft?

Wolves susceptible to yawn contagion

Aug 27, 2014

Wolves may be susceptible to yawn contagion, according to a study published August 27, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Teresa Romero from The University of Tokyo, Japan, and colleagues.

User comments : 0