Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fish Tale Has DNA Hook

I've written about Dan Janzen's idea for a DNA barcoding device, which you could use to identify the different kinds of life you encounter.

I recently was forwarded a post from David Duthie (of the UN Environment Program) that spotted a new application: truth in sushi labeling.

I have been a "fan" of DNA barcoding for a while now and believe that when DNA can be linked to the power of the Internet (DNA-museum-Google Earth) via a hand-held barcoder/barcorder - as suggested long ago by fellow BIOPLANNER Dan Janzen - then maybe biodiversity will have gained the power to truly inspire the general public and becoming an important "way of thinking" about the world around us.
Below is a story from the New York times that gives us a glimpse of what that world might be like - where two high school children, albeit with some good connections, can demonstrate that some NY sushi is not "kosher" - offering farmed tilapia at tuna prices. A few days earlier, I read an article where DNA-sampling of freshwater ponds can reveal the presence/absence of the invasive American bullfrogs even when normal monitoring techniques fail - this technique can even detect "ghosts" - species that have been but are no longer present!

Dan Janzen has continued to explore the power of DNA-barcoding, plus regular taxonomy, coupled with some extraordinary field-sampling (ecological forensic science) in Guanacaste National Park in Costa Rica, to probe the hidden diversity lurking beneath the surface of morphospecies - "Extreme diversity of tropical parasitoid wasps exposed by iterative integration of natural history, DNA barcoding, morphology, and collections" the latest in a growing series of papers is availble open access online at: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2008/08/19/0805319105.abstract

Given the choice between an iPhone and a barcoder to "talk" to the world's biodiversity, then sorry mum, but give me the barcoder every time!
Best wishes

David Duthie


Fish Tale Has DNA Hook - Students Find Bad Labels - NYTimes.com

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