Campus News

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In the News

December 14, 2004

Prof's research featured in New York Times

The research of University of Guelph zoologist Paul Hebert is featured in today’s issue of The New York Times. (To access the article, simply complete the free online registration.)

The article, written by Nicholas Wade, explains how Hebert has found a new way of identifying species.

Hebert was the first scientist to propose that a short DNA sequence from a gene found in all animals can be used to identify species. He called it “DNA barcoding” to reflect the fact that analysis focuses on a short, standard gene region. Just as retail barcodes allow the quick identification of millions of items on store shelves, so too will DNA barcodes allow the rapid identification of species, Hebert said.

Already, DNA barcoding has led to the discovery of new species of birds, butterflies and fishes. Hebert estimates that in about 20 years, the technique could enable completion of a catalogue of the estimated 10 million species of animals on the planet, of which only 1.2 million have been formally identified over the past 250 years.

Wade’s article also mentions that Hebert recently received a $3 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to help equip, staff and operate the world’s first centre for high-volume DNA barcoding.

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