DNA Barcoding
North America
Our laboratory is currently involved in evaluating the utility of the CO1 gene that has been identified in many publications and press releases as the "DNA Barcoding" gene for identifying species diversity. There are many different and important issues related to the utility of a single mitochondrial gene as a "species gene" across all of life or even North American freshwater fishes. Thus, with our extensive samples of both frozen and EtOH prepared tissues, we are currently investigating the utility of this gene as a "cornerstone" marker of species diversity relative to other genes or combinations of genes.

Our efforts with DNA barcoding involve all of North America's freshwater fishes. In addition to Cytochrome Oxidase 1, we are examining several other mitochondrial (12S, 16S, tRNAs, Cyt. b, control region, ND 4-5) and nuclear (Rag 1, Rag 2, S7, Rh) genes that may useful separately or in combination to identify diversity.

While we view the idea of having DNA markers for species as important in some areas of science, we are concerned with the proposition of the feasabilty of a single, unique DNA marker being required, of any of the currently available genes, or any pre-determined "cutoff" of DNA divergence or genetic distance, required before a species can be "validated." We see several theoretical and empirical problems with such a proposition and that these decisions must be based on sound scientific principles. Thus, we are examining multiple species within the North American fauna for multiple individuals from multile populations for the "barcoding" gene to evaluate its utility in the eventual case that these data will be employed for species identification.

Several other collaborators in North America are working with us in this "DNA barcoding" investigation of fishes. Partners in this effort to work with the international FISH-BOL program are identified in the following page.

Login for DNA Barcoding of North American Freshwater Fishes site

Visit the DNA barcoding of life or FISH-BOL website for more information.

Drawing by David A. Neely