Plants Finally Get DNA Barcodes — Genetic profiles to fight illegal logging

By Stephen Leahy*

MÉRIDA, Mexico, Nov 20 (Tierramérica)

Advances made in genetic profiling could be used to fight illegal timber trading, provide authentication of herbal medicines and map entire food chains, according to experts at a conference of the Mexican Academy of Sciences.

“It’s taken four years, but the new science of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) barcoding now has the crucial 'marker' for plants,” said David Schindel, executive secretary of the Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL).

“Biodiversity scientists are using DNA technology to unravel mysteries, much like detectives use it to solve crimes,” Schindel told Tierramérica from Mexico City, where CBOL was co-host of the Nov. 10-12 conference of the Mexican Academy of Sciences with the Biology Institute of the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM).

“This work in Mexico and elsewhere is enormously important,” says Patricia Escalante, chair of the Institute’s zoology department.

“Barcoding is a tool to identify species faster, more cheaply, and more precisely than traditional methods,” Escalante stated in a press release. Continue reading