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Saturday, July 24, 2010

DNA barcoding

Yes, you read the title correctly.

DNA barcoding doesn't exactly use the bar code reader that you see in your local grocery store, but the principles are similar. It is possible to find out the source of biological material with this technique. For example, a couple of high school students found that quite a bit of the food for sale in New York City was mis-labeled, not the species it was supposed to be.

There is (of course) a Wikipedia article on DNA barcoding. It tells us that, for animals, DNA barcoding identification depends on a gene found in mitochondria. It also indicates that there has been controversy over the technique.

The Barcode of Life web site has more information, including links to research articles done with the technique. I discovered that, given a laboratory with proper equipment, it is possible to match a sample with a known species for a few dollars in a couple of hours.

Thanks for reading.

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