International Barcode of Life Project : Engaging Developing Nations

DNA barcoding is a new tool for taxonomic research. The DNA barcode is a very short standardized DNA sequence in a well-known gene. It provides a secure and less complicated way of identifying the species to which an animal, plant or fungus belongs than traditional observation. The barcoding tool was developed by Dr Paul Hebert from the University of Guelph, which houses the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) project that champions barcoding. iBOL's mission is to extend the barcode reference library, provide community access to these records, and create new devices to ensure rapid bio-surveillance.

Barcoding has numerous potential applications in, for example, resources conservation, disease prevention, detection of invasive species, water quality control, monitoring disease vectors, identification of illegally traded plants or animals, and the elimination of weed seeds in seed collections. To date, most of the barcoding research has been basic research carried out in Canada and in a limited number of other countries, primarily in the North. But, there is growing interest in barcoding on the part of diverse countries from around the world, as demonstrated at the Third International Barcode of Life conference held in Mexico, November 2009.

This project will allow iBOL to expand the application of barcoding to developing countries. This will involve establishing barcode libraries in Argentina and South Africa to act as regional nodes within iBOL, establishing national nodes in three developing countries (Costa Rica, Kenya, Peru) and funding one project that uses DNA barcoding to address an important concern in ecosystem management in each of the five countries. The project will also allow iBOL to develop appropriate guidelines for dealing with issues of access and benefit sharing (ABS) that arise from the use of barcoding, to build scientific capacity in developing countries, and to establish an international network to foster dialogue between researchers and research funding organizations to promote and sustain international collaborative barcoding science.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Thursday, April 1, 2010

End Date

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


36 months

IDRC Officer

De Plaen, Renaud

Total funding

CA$ 2,158,187


Argentina, South America, Costa Rica, North and Central America, Kenya, Peru, South Africa, North of Sahara, South of Sahara, Mexico, Canada


Agriculture and Food Security

Project Leader

Dr. Paul Hebert


University of Guelph

Institution Country


Institution Website