"DNA barcoding" was proposed formally in 2003 as a technique for species diagnosis and identification using short standardized gene regions. Since then, it has grown from small cottage industry status to an international initiative. Currently there are more than 600 peer reviewed scientific papers that utilize the approach across a wide range of taxa and for a diverse array of biological questions. The barcoding community has gathered for an international conference every two years starting in February 2005 in London, 2007 in Taiwan and, most recently, in November 2009 in Mexico City. The early conferences focused on the degree to which barcode-based identifications were reliable, and subsequently the most pressing of such concerns have been laid to rest. The Mexico City conference therefore witnessed an explosion of new applications of DNA barcoding across a rapidly expanding range of fields.
This PLoS ONE Collection includes a selection of articles from the speakers in the plenary sessions at the Mexico City barcode conference. The conference agenda provides access to video recordings and PowerPoint presentations, and there are online discussions of the conference on Connect, the DNA barcoding network.
The articles in the Collection represent the broad range of work now going on in the barcoding community, ranging from taxonomy (see article by Little), to ecology (Janzen, Smith), to biogeography (Lijtmaier) to socioeconomic applications such as controlling forest pest species (de Waard). One of the highlights of the Mexico City Conference, represented in the Collection, was the formal announcement of agreement on the standard barcode regions for land plants (Hollingsworth). This new standard opened the door to novel projects on grasses (an important agricultural group), food webs on plant-eating insects, and combating illegal logging. Interest in the incorporation of next generation sequencing approaches as a tool for DNA barcoding is growing fast as a strategy for identifying species found in environmental samples ("barcoding in a blender"). The rapid growth of the public barcode sequence database has also opened new lines of research in cybertaxonomy and large-scale computation on biodiversity data (Sarkar).
The barcoding community is gearing up for the Fourth International Conference which will be hosted by the University of Adelaide, South Australia, from 28 November to 3 December 2011. Online discussions have opened already and more than 400 abstracts have been submitted. DNA barcoding continues to expand and accelerate and this PLoS ONE Collection will be an important reference in the evolution of this field.
The Third International Barcode of Life Conference was held in Mexico City on 9-13 November 2009. The Conference was hosted by the the Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and was organized by the Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL), a global initiative supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and hosted by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History.
PLOS ONE: published 16 Aug 2011 | info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0018123
PLOS ONE: published 16 Aug 2011 | info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0021334
PLOS ONE: published 26 May 2011 | info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0019254
PLOS ONE: published 16 Aug 2011 | info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0019874
PLOS ONE: published 16 Aug 2011 | info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0020552
PLOS ONE: published 27 Jul 2011 | info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0014689
PLOS ONE: published 27 Jul 2011 | info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0020744
PLOS ONE: published 27 Jul 2011 | info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0021252
PLOS ONE: published 06 Jul 2011 | info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0014424
PLOS ONE: published 13 Apr 2011 | info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0017497
PLOS ONE: published 28 Feb 2011 | info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0017284
PLOS ONE: published 09 Dec 2010 | info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0014280