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Dr. Mehrdad Hajibabaei
Associate Professor, Integrative Biology & Biodiversity Institute of Ontario

Mehrdad Hajibabaei


Office: Centre for Biodiversity Genomics (CBG) Rm. 108
Ext: 52487
Lab: CBG, Rms. 015 and 016
Ext: 56007

Hajibabaei Lab


I use molecular biology, genomics and bioinformatics to study evolutionary relationships and to understand species diversity in different domains of life. During my PhD at the university of Ottawa, I studied the molecular evolution of RNA Polymerase genes and used their sequence information--in combination with several other loci--to address a long-standing evolutionary question: seed plant phylogeny and the position of Gnetales. During my postdoctoral research at Guelph, I focused on development and application of DNA barcoding, a global DNA-based species identification system. I applied DNA barcoding to a well-studied species-rich tropical fauna of the Lepidoptera of Costa Rica. I also worked on establishing high-throughput workflows for barcoding as well as recovery of DNA barcodes from archival specimens. As an Assistant Professor, based at Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, I continue my research on various aspects of molecular biodiversity analysis from theoretical work to technology development and bioinformatics. I also serve as the Associate Director of the Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding, based at Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, and as Associate Editor for the journal BMC Ecology.


B.Sc. - Tehran (1994)
Ph.D. - Ottawa (2003)


My long-term research aims at developing a comprehensive genomics based system to study evolutionary relationships and diversity of life in different environments. I am currently involved in the following projects:
- Environmental barcoding through next-generation sequencing
- DNA Barcoding of tropical Lepidoptera and their host plants
- Establishing DNA barcoding systems in plants, protists, and fungi
- Molecular biosystematics analysis of archival (museum) specimens
- Developing rapid array-based identification systems
- Building bioinformatics tools for molecular biodiversity analysis
See my lab website for more information and opportunities to participate in these and other projects.

Selected Publications

Baird DJ, Pascoe TJ, Zhou X, Hajibabaei M: Building freshwater macroinvertebrate DNA-barcode libraries from reference collection material: formalin preservation vs specimen age. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 2011, 30: 125-130.

Shokralla S, Singer GAC, Hajibabaei M: Direct PCR amplification and sequencing of specimens' DNA from preservative ethanol. Biotechniques, 2010, 3.

Hajibabaei M, Singer GAC: Googling DNA Sequences on the World Wide Web. BMC Bioinformatics 2009, 10 Suppl 14:S4.

Hollingsworth PM, and 51 others: A DNA barcode for land plants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. 2009, 106:12794-12797.

Singer GAC, Hajibabaei M: web-based molecular biodiversity analysis. BMC Bioinformatics 2009, 10 Suppl 6:S14.

Meusnier I, Singer GAC, Landry JF, Hickey DA, Hebert PD, Hajibabaei M: A universal DNA mini-barcode for biodiversity analysis. BMC Genomics 2008, 9:214. (Ranked as highly accessed article)

Hajibabaei M, Singer GAC, Hebert PDN, Hickey DA: DNA barcoding: how it complements taxonomy, molecular phylogenetics and population genetics. Trends in Genetics 2007, 23:167-172. (Published as cover story and ranked 5th in the Top 25 Hottest Articles in April-June 2007)

Hajibabaei M, Singer GAC, Clare EL, Hebert PDN: Design and applicability of DNA arrays and DNA barcodes in biodiversity monitoring. BMC Biology 2007, 5:24. (Ranked as highly accessed article)

Hajibabaei M, Xia J, Drouin G: Seed plant phylogeny: gnetophytes are derived conifers and a sister group to Pinaceae. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 2006, 40:208-217.

Hajibabaei M, Smith MA, Janzen DH, Rodriguez JJ, Whitfield JB, Hebert PDN: A minimalist barcode can identify a specimen whose DNA is degraded. Molecular Ecology Notes 2006, 6:959-964. (Ranked among top 20 accessed papers on journal's website)

Hajibabaei M, Janzen DH, Burns JM, Hallwachs W, Hebert PDN: DNA barcodes distinguish species of tropical Lepidoptera. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. 2006, 103:968-971. (Presented as cover image and ranked 4th among 50th Most-Read Articles in January 2006)

Hajibabaei M, deWaard JR, Ivanova NV, Ratnasingham S, Dooh RT, Kirk SL, Mackie PM, Hebert PDN: Critical factors for assembling a high volume of DNA barcodes. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 2005, 360:1959-1967.

Grad Students

Gina Capretta (MSc)
Nicole Fahner (MSc)
Lisa Ledger (MSc)
Katie McGee (PhD)
Michael Wright (MSc)
Rebecca Bloch* (PhD) (co-supervisor: Markus Pfenninger)
*Based at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt, Germany


Hajibabaei Lab Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding Biodiversity Institute of Ontario Barcode of Life Data Systems International Barcode of Life Project Consortium for the Barcode of Life