Thursday, June 2, 2016

Working in DNA Barcoding - Jaime Morín Lagos

Traditionally, taxonomists used morphological features to identify specimens they find, but using morphological keys hasn’t been enough and often this approach have some limitations. The Barcoding of DNA, in simple words, is a way to identify species based in molecular techniques, they use a short genetic sequence from a standard part of the genome the way a supermarket scanner distinguishes products using the black stripes of the Universal Product Code (UPC).

Using molecular markers is a way to overcome common issues of the morphological identification, for example when you have individuals in larvae stages (often found when sampling), but also is an innovative device for Non-specialists who need to make a quick identification, for example is useful when you want to know if food truly includes the ingredients that they say in a restaurant, specially with seafood because their higher levels of diversity.

The Barcoding of DNA technology also will bring the genetic knowledge to anyone to enjoy including children. For example The International Barcode of Life project (iBOL) is an initiative that aims to create a digital identification system for life, this is really amazing! I like to see this like a real life “Pokedex”

 Here in Collin Lab I work on an exciting project called “Bocas del Toro Barcoding Project”. We have sequences from different kind of specimens of the region (Gorgonians, Coral, Sponges, shrimps, etc) and aim to create and upload to BoLD a database of their barcodes (normally they don’t have previous molecular data). I have been here for almost 3 months helping with the data analysis and evaluation of new sequences to upload to BoLD, and also some bioinformatics analysis. It seems like an easy work (theoretically it should be) but it require patience, concentration, and constantly feedback from the taxonomists to ensure a good and reliable work.

I’m really learning so much and I’m gaining experience in this field and I’m happy for that, I hope the work made here will be useful in future projects. For example, now I’m working in a Meta-barcoding project, in collaboration with Kristin Saltonstall, where they aim to use the information that we have been uploading to BoLD for the identification of larvae samples from Panama City and Bocas del Toro. I’m currently working in the molecular part (Extraction of DNA, PCR, Sequencing) so maybe I will write another post in the next weeks. Thanks for read this one - May All Your Blanks stay Blank!

Jaime Morín Lagos
Bachelor Science in Genetics and Biotechnology 
National University of San Marcos (PERU)


Andrea Galimberti, Fabrizio De Mattia, Alessia Losa, Ilaria Bruni, Silvia Federici, Maurizio Casiraghi, Stefano Martellos, Massimo Labra. DNA barcoding as a new tool for food traceability. Food Research International. Volume 50, Issue 1, January 2013, Pages 55–63

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