Message from Scott Miller, Chair of CBOL’s Executive Committee
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation of New York began supporting DNA barcoding with grants for two planning workshops at the Banbury Conference Center at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island, NY.  In April 2004, CBOL received the first Sloan Foundation grant for a Secretariat Office and a wide range of activities.  The Sloan Foundation renewed this support in early 2006 and 2008, and in April 2010 CBOL received its fourth grant ($1.7 million for 2010-2012) for continued operation.  The renewal proposal is posted on the new www.barcodeoflife.org website.  This new grant brings the total support provided to CBOL by the Sloan Foundation to more than $6 million.  The Sloan Foundation typically supports a research area for a span of ten years, so CBOL anticipates that this new grant will be the last awarded by the Sloan Foundation.  CBOL’s Executive Committee will be forming a Sustainability Committee to explore alternatives for CBOL after this grant expires in mid-2012.

What are CBOL’s goals and plans for the next two years?  We’ll be focusing on

  • Helping iBOL getting its Working Groups off to a fast start.  iBOL has also received good news about renewed funding – see John Chenery’s blog post on the Barcode of Life Community Network;
  • Accelerating the production of public barcode records by mobilizing more frozen tissue samples from museums and improving data management (see David Schindel’s blog post on barcoding in Europe);
  • Expanding the leadership role that barcoding is playing in ‘cybertaxonomy’.  Sujeevan Ratnasingham’s winning of the Ebbe Nielsen Prize awarded each year by GBIF is one example of this leadership;
  • Promote technology development for barcoding through private sector partnerships (see New CBOL-Life Tech Partnership in this newsletter);
  • Expand taxonomic coverage of the barcode database and complete projects of strategic importance; and
  • Of course, organize the Fourth International Barcode of Life Conference.  You’ll be seeing a call for Expressions of Interest in hosting the conference and we invite your organizations to consider hosting the meeting.

Barcoding and CBOL have matured rapidly together over the past six years and the Sloan Foundation’s support had been a critical factor.  We’re all eager to get started on the program of work for 2010-2012 and you can keep up to date on progress through the Community Network  at http://connect.barcodeoflife.net.

Message from David Schindel, CBOL’s Executive Secretary 
Barcoding is growing at an enormous rate in many dimensions, expanding to include:

  • Thousands of new barcode data records every month,
  • New barcoding projects, grants, and laboratories,
  • New countries and regions that are getting involved,
  • Extensive media coverage of barcoding, and
  • New users who are testing barcode data for different applications.

CBOL concluded that a new system of communication and coordination would be needed to keep pace with this rapid multidimensional growth.  There are two components to this system: the Barcode of Life Community Network (http://connect.barcodeoflife.net) and a dynamic website and content management system (www.barcodeoflife.org).  Both designs were unveiled at the November Mexico City Barcode Conference and were launched in the following months.  There are already about 300 members on the “Connect” social network and they’ve established dozens of discussion threads and more than 30 online special interest groups. 

The new Barcode of Life website has been designed as your ‘one-stop shop’ about barcoding - a comprehensive source of general information and links to all major barcoding partners and activities.  A Drupal content management system is being added to the website to make it easier to organize and distribute information on:

  • Barcode publications
  • Media coverage
  • Grants awarded
  • Upcoming meetings and events
  • Job and grant opportunities
  • Barcode projects, courses, training opportunities

CBOL hopes you’ll join the Community Network soon.  Fill out a member profile so others will know about your interests, and enter your location on the member map.  Then take a tour of the online groups and discussions, and if you don’t see one for the topics that interest you, feel free to start your own.

CBOL and Life Technologies form collaboration for technology development
CBOL and Life Technology (formed from the merger of Invitrogen and ABI) have agreed to collaborate on technology development for new barcoding instruments, reagents, kits, and software.  The collaboration will bring together members of the Life Tech staff, representatives of major barcoding projects, and potential users of barcode data, especially government agencies such as USDA, FDA, EPA, and their non-US counterparts.  CBOL will convene workshops for the exchange of information that will clarify user needs and the directions that technology development should take.  This collaboration will be open and non-exclusive so other technology companies will be free to participate.

New grant for matK primer development
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has awarded £95,518 to the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh to support the development of new tools for barcoding land plants.  Pete Hollingsworth, Chair of CBOL’s Plant Working Group, is Principal Investigator on the new grant which will focus on developing and testing new primers for matK.

Mexico City Proceedings Volumes
CBOL has formed an editorial committee that is producing three proceedings volumes from the Mexico City Barcode Conference.  The volumes will collect papers on MexBOL, FISH-BOL, and from the plenary speakers.  Rob DeSalle is the proceedings editor and the volumes are being submitted to mtDNA and PLoS ONE.

Mexico City Conference videos now online
Video recordings and presentation files of all the plenary and technical session talks from the Third International Barcode of Life Conference are now posted in a discussion forum on Connect.Barcodeoflife.net. You’ll find pdfs of many of the poster presentations there also. We hope you’ll use these discussion areas to exchange ideas, questions and answers related to the presentations.

CBOL Training Events
CBOL’s Leading Labs Network organizes training courses and hosts fellows for barcode training.  Michelle Van Der Bank and Olivier Maurin recently ran a short course for 25 people at the University of Johannesburg.  Pablo Tubaro and Dario Lijtmaier have organized a training course that will be held in May at the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales "Bernardino Rivadavia" in Buenos Aires.  The University of Guelph, the Smithsonian Institution, and the American Museum of Natural History have all hosted training fellows. 

Recent Meetings
CBOL sponsored and/or organized the following meetings recently:

  • Costa Rica National iBOL Committee, INBio, 8 April
  • Network of European Leading Labs (NELL) met at CBS in Utrecht, Netherlands, on 13-14 April
  • Side-events at:
    • The CITES Conference of the Parties in Doha, Qatar on 14 April, and
    • The Commission on Phytosanitary Measures in Rome on 26 April

TreeBOL held a meeting at the NY Botanical Garden on 16 April
The Barcode of Life website provides information on upcoming meetings and past meeting reports and presentations

Upcoming ECBOL2 Meeting
The European Consortium for the Barcode of Life (ECBOL) will be holding its second conference in Braga, Portugal on 1-4 June 2010.  The ECBOL2 Conference website provides registration and travel information.

CBOL in Barcoding Science:  Barcoding Endangered Species using Character Analysis
Biodiversity loss is one of the most pressing issues in science policy today and an important application of DNA barcoding.  George Amato (American Museum of Natural History) and colleagues have published a series of articles about reference barcode libraries of endangered species including mammals in the illegal bushmeat trade, marine turtles and crocodiles.  The most recent focused on tuna.  In general, COI does a good job of separating species of tuna but some rare and endangered species can be hard to identify using barcodes.  Whenever distributions of intraspecific variation overlap with interspecific divergence, some species-groups become indistinguishable if distance-based techniques such as Neighbor Joining trees are used.  Despite the lack of a distance-based ‘barcode gap’, the tuna study showed that there can be diagnostic sites (or combinations of sites) that distinguish these closely related species. 

These publications on endangered species have highlighted the need to develop more sensitive ways to diagnose species differences using barcode data.  CBOL’s Data Analysis Working Group has been developing a diverse set of analytical tools including Bayesian, character-based, and other approaches to clustering.  These analytical packages can be found on the Barcode of Life Data Portal along with database management tools and more than 115,000 public barcode data records drawn from BOLD and GenBank.


The Real maccoyii: Identifying Tuna Sushi with DNA Barcodes – Contrasting Characteristic Attributes and Genetic Distances, Jacob H. Lowenstein, George Amato, Sergios-Orestis Kolokotronis, PLoS ONE 4(11): e7866. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007866

Staff changes in the CBOL Secretariat Office
Meg Fritzcshe, CBOL’s Administrator since December 2005, will be moving to Guelph, Ontario in June. She will continue working for CBOL until October and will be marrying Sujeevan Ratnasingham in November. We know you join us in thanking Meg for her outstanding service to CBOL and in wishing her and Sujeevan a long and happy life together.

Stephanie Wezowicz has joined CBOL as the new Administrator. Stephanie has been Administrative Officer in the Smithsonian’s Office of Sponsored Projects for two years and is now eagerly learning about DNA barcoding.