DNA barcoding tracks small insects

MINNEAPOLIS, March 10 (UPI) -- A U.S.-led team of scientists says it has determined a technique called DNA barcoding provides a much faster way to study the spread and diet of insects.

DNA barcoding involves the identification of species from a short DNA sequence. Using that technique, researchers including University of Minnesota Associate Professor George Weiblen said they studied populations of numerous moth and butterfly species across Papua New Guinea.


Weiblen said DNA barcoding is of particular interest in Papua New Guinea, a country slightly larger in size than California with an insect diversity more than three times that of the United States.

"New Guinea is one of those special places on Earth where we know very little about its biodiversity. This rich natural environment is increasingly threatened by economic development, and I'm concerned about how much biodiversity might be lost before we've had a chance to understand it," Weiblen said. "DNA barcoding helps to increase the pace of discovery."

The study that included scientists from the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Minnesota, Canada's University of Guelph, and the University of South Bohemia in the Czech Republic was published in the March 1 early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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