The Barcode Blog

A mostly scientific blog about short DNA sequences for species identification and discovery. I encourage your commentary. -- Mark Stoeckle

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High school students help demonstrate practicality, utility of DNA barcoding

High school students in San Diego are using DNA barcoding to survey life in San Diego Bay, ranging from invasive mussels, to gastropod egg masses on eel grass, zooplankton and endangered species. Under leadership of Dr. Jay Vavra, students developed a simplified protocol for DNA extraction and amplification that can be performed in the high school’s biotechnology laboratory, and successfully identified dried jerky meat from ostrich, turkey, and beef. They have established a collaboration with East African graduate students to apply this approach to identifying bushmeat from endangered species in local African markets.

Just two years ago, in Syst Biol 55: 844, 2006 some taxonomists worried whether DNA barcoding would ever be useful: “The truth is that DNA barcoding will not have any meaningful use for the general public and even when a portable barcoder becomes available it will not lead to any increase in the biological literacy of the man in the street.” Authors Cameron et al might want to visit their local high school!

For high school students DNA barcoding seems as natural as texting. You can analyze DNA to identify species? Sure. You only need a trace sample, like a hair or a bit of dried skin? Sure, just like CSI shows. On the other side, many identification keys are not practical for most persons who would like to identify what is in their backyard.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 4th, 2008 at 10:21 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

5 Responses to “High school students help demonstrate practicality, utility of DNA barcoding”

  1. Karen James Says:

    Brilliant! Thanks for sharing this, Mark. It’s an excellent model for those of us who want to integrate research and education through DNA barcoding.

  2. Mechanic Says:

    Wow, this is incredible.

    I wish I had these types of programs in highschool

  3. PcWorld Says:

    Thanks for the post.Thats fantastic and incredible.

  4. derek Says:

    This is a really good type of activites that school should employ. Definitely helps to improve the education system. yes, i have these type of activities in my high school.

  5. Mechnic Schools Says:

    This is an incredible post. yes, I know, its a little bit old, but still – impressive!


About this site

This web site is an outgrowth of the Taxonomy, DNA, and Barcode of Life meeting held at Banbury Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, September 9-12, 2003. It is designed and managed by Mark Stoeckle, Perrin Meyer, and Jason Yung at the Program for the Human Environment (PHE) at The Rockefeller University.

About the Program for the Human Environment

The involvement of the Program for the Human Environment in DNA barcoding dates to Jesse Ausubel's attendance in February 2002 at a conference in Nova Scotia organized by the Canadian Center for Marine Biodiversity. At the conference, Paul Hebert presented for the first time his concept of large-scale DNA barcoding for species identification. Impressed by the potential for this technology to address difficult challenges in the Census of Marine Life, Jesse agreed with Paul on encouraging a conference to explore the contribution taxonomy and DNA could make to the Census as well as other large-scale terrestrial efforts. In his capacity as a Program Director of the Sloan Foundation, Jesse turned to the Banbury Conference Center of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, whose leader Jan Witkowski prepared a strong proposal to explore both the scientific reliability of barcoding and the processes that might bring it to broad application. Concurrently, PHE researcher Mark Stoeckle began to work with the Hebert lab on analytic studies of barcoding in birds. Our involvement in barcoding now takes 3 forms: assisting the organizational development of the Consortium for the Barcode of Life and the Barcode of Life Initiative; contributing to the scientific development of the field, especially by studies in birds, and contributing to public understanding of the science and technology of barcoding and its applications through improved visualization techniques and preparation of brochures and other broadly accessible means, including this website. While the Sloan Foundation continues to support CBOL through a grant to the Smithsonian Institution, it does not provide financial support for barcoding research itself or support to the PHE for its research in this field.