An international consortium of geneticists will activate a DNA barcode library in Toronto representing almost 80,000 species, the International Barcode of Life Project (iBOL) announced.
The aim is to eventually build a digital identification system for all life on earth to reduce the time and cost of species identification.
To mark the world’s largest biodiversity genomics initiative, Toronto's CN Tower, the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere, is to be illuminated as a giant bar code, iBOl said.
"We are witnessing alarming rates of species extinction," said iBOL scientific director Paul Hebert.
"But efforts to reverse that trend are hampered by huge gaps in our knowledge about the distribution and diversity of life. DNA barcoding promises a future where everyone will have rapid access to the names and biological attributes of every species on Earth."
DNA barcoding, which identifies species using a short DNA sequence from a standard location on the genome, will also be a vital tool for conservation and for monitoring species that have adverse impacts on human health and economic wellbeing, he said.
Huge support from many countries
More than 25 countries are involved in the project.
Work over the past five years has produced barcode records for almost 80,000 species.
By 2015, consortium members are expected to have entered DNA barcode records from five million specimens representing half a million species into the interactive Barcode of Life Data System (BOLD) databank, and eventually all of Earth's animal, plant and fungal species.
(Sapa, September 2010)