DNA Barcoding Library Receives Provincial Support

April 12, 2013 - News Release

Support for a digital DNA “library” of Canadian plants and animals to be developed at the University of Guelph has passed the $1-million mark.

The Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation will invest more than $650,000 in the new initiative at U of G’s Biodiversity Institute of Ontario (BIO). Liz Sandals, minister of education and MPP for Guelph, announced the funding on campus today on behalf of Reza Moridi, minister of research and innovation.

Matching earlier funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, this new investment brings total federal and provincial support and related funding for the digital library project to more than $1.5 million.

The new grant caps nearly a decade of effort and investment by the University and by public and private supporters in the rapidly developing field of DNA barcoding to identify organisms, said Kevin Hall, vice-president (research).

“We’re grateful to the provincial government for supporting this important Guelph innovation, which is truly changing how we see our world,” he said.

DNA barcoding is revolutionizing how species are identified and recorded, and providing new tools for everything from monitoring invasive species to alleviating consumer fears, said Hall.

“It’s a stellar example of how Guelph researchers are not only making discoveries but also putting those discoveries to use.”

First proposed by integrative biology professor Paul Hebert, BIO director, DNA barcoding allows scientists to use genetic material to identify animal and plant species.

Under the DNA digital library project, researchers will digitize hundreds of thousands of Canadian specimens. They expect the project will help in improving pest and disease control, regulating international trade and markets, and ecosystem conservation.

“This new award will speed the development of a comprehensive DNA barcode library for Canadian plants and animals by enabling the analysis of specimens held in the major natural history collections across our nation,” Hebert said.

BIO is the hub for the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) project, with more than 1,000 researchers in 26 countries developing a DNA barcode reference library and new informatics tools and technologies.

Besides improving bio-surveillance programs, Hebert said, the new grant will “help to sustain Canada’s leadership of iBOL, the largest research program ever undertaken in biodiversity genomics.”

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, lhunt@uoguelph.ca, or Kevin Gonsalves, Ext. 56982, kgonsalves@uoguelph.ca.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1