[p2p-research] FISHBOL.org: Fish Barcode of Life Initiative

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Mon Nov 23 02:07:07 CET 2009

A digital commons initiative:
The Fish Barcode of Life Initiative (FISH-BOL), is a global effort to 
coordinate an assembly of a standardised reference sequence library for all 
fish species, one that is derived from voucher specimens with authoritative 
taxonomic identifications. The benefits of barcoding fishes include 
facilitating species identification for all potential users, including 
taxonomists; highlighting specimens that represent a range expansion of 
known species; flagging previously unrecognized species; and perhaps most 
importantly, enabling identifications where traditional methods are not 
   The Fish Barcode of Life effort is creating a valuable public resource in 
the form of an electronic database containing DNA barcodes, images, and 
geospatial coordinates of examined specimens. The database contains linkages 
to voucher specimens, information on species distributions, nomenclature, 
authoritative taxonomic information, collateral natural history information 
and literature citations. FISH-BOL thus complements and enhances existing 
information resources, including FishBase and various genomics databases.

Discussed here:
The team of researchers from Columbia University and the American Museum of 
Natural History ordered tuna from 31 sushi restaurants and then used genetic 
tests to determine the species of fishes in those dishes. More than half of 
those eateries misrepresented, or couldn’t clarify the type of fish they 
were mongering. Several were selling endangered southern bluefin tuna.
   Although their results were shocking, exposing sloppy sushi joints wasn’t 
their main goal. The scientists were trying to improve on a new 
species-identification technique, called DNA barcoding. A coalition of labs 
has been collecting fish, reading their genes and uploading the information 
to a database called FISH-BOL.
   Their goal is to build a catalog of every fish species on earth so that 
anyone with a handheld DNA reader could definitively identify fish within 
minutes. Wildlife officials could use that technology to spot-check fish 
markets, and fine people who are selling protected species.

--Paul Fernhout

More information about the p2presearch mailing list