Welcome to our new DNA barcoding blog.  It truly is an exciting time to be involved in this aspect of genomic science as DNA barcoding has been used to identify new species, help explain the biodiversity of our planet and even detect food fraud.  Just as a universal product code (UPC) identifies an item for sale in a store, a DNA barcode uniquely identifies each species of living thing.  The DNA barcoding technique includes extraction of DNA from an organism of interest, ampliflication of this DNA through PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction), and sequencing of the DNA at specific locations in the genome.

In 2008, students from the Trinity School in New York City used DNA barcoding to find out that the raw tuna being sold at some sushi restaurants and grocery stores was not actually “tuna”, but instead “tilapia”, which is a cheaper fish.  This type of experiment not only demonstrates the real life applications of DNA barcoding, but just as importantly, shows the accessibility of this type of science to high school students.

This year, students from the New York City area will embark on the first ever Urban Barcode Project (UBP), a high school competition in which students will use DNA barcoding to explore the biodiversity in New York City. If you are a NYC teacher or a scientist interested in leading a team of students, please go to the UBP website for more information.