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2019-06-06. $180 million DNA ‘barcode’ project aims to discover 2 million new species.

posted Jun 8, 2019, 11:49 PM by Alan D. GOULD
By Elizabeth Pennisi, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/06/180-million-dna-barcode-project-aims-discover-2-million-new-species] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 4. Excerpt: For centuries biologists have identified new species at a painstakingly slow pace, describing specimens' physical features and other defining traits, and often trying to fit a species into the tree of life before naming and publishing it. Now, they have begun to determine whether a specimen is likely a novel species in hours—and will soon do so at a cost of pennies. It's a revolution driven by short stretches of DNA—dubbed barcodes in a nod to the familiar product identifiers—that vary just enough to provide species-distinguishing markers, combined with fast, cheap DNA sequencers. ...Biodiversity experts estimate that Earth has between 8.7 million and 20 million kinds of plants, animals, and fungi, but to date only 1.8 million of them have received formal descriptions. Insects, in particular, are a vast realm of undiscovered species. "Yet collectively, they may contribute more biomass in terrestrial habitats than all wild vertebrates combined," says Rudolf Meier, a biologist from the National University of Singapore who has been developing barcoding approaches with a small DNA sequencer....