Lab Canada

Barcode of life project receives $5M funding

Guelph, ON – A research initiative called the International Barcode of Life Project is receiving $5 million in funding from Ontario’s provincial government. The funding will enable researchers at the University of Guelph to work with over 100 researchers from 25 countries to create the world’s largest reference library of DNA samples – consisting of 500,000 species.

The researchers are developing a groundbreaking technology that will lead to faster DNA identification by simply scanning a specimen with a hand-held device.

In addition to creating an unprecedented body of scientific knowledge to help preserve and protect the world’s biodiversity, there are many additional commercial applications for this technology such as helping to reduce the threat of global epidemics.

“The potential applications for this technology are broad, touching every aspect of our lives,” said Paul Hebert, director of the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario at the University of Guelph and the founder of DNA barcoding. “There will be economic benefits linked to the prevention of crop devastation because of better surveillance of pests. Barcoding will also protect human health by advancing our capacity to identify disease organisms and their transmission pathways. As well, barcoding will help protect biodiversity at a time when it is threatened by climate change.”

And, on the heels of this funding, Ontario’s government also announced another $150,000 to support international collaboration on this research initiative through the International Strategic Opportunities Program (ISOP).

Minister of Research and Innovation John Wilkinson made the announcement in Sydney, Australia, where he participated in an event to celebrate the international research in the iBOL project – including a new commitment of $1.2 million by the State Government of New South Wales.

The funding will enable University of Guelph researchers to work with over 100 researchers from 25 countries to create the world’s largest reference library of DNA samples. It will also create new opportunities for training and international exchanges between researchers to strengthen expertise of DNA barcoding and develop new applications and commercial uses.

Australian researchers will record DNA samples of Australia’s living species and add these to the world catalogue housed at the University of Guelph.