UK Fungus Day map
30 | 09 | 21

What is DNA barcoding?

Posted by: UK_FD

A diagnostic portion of the DNA barcode of a new species of Big Blue Pinkgill, Entoloma atromadidum (red box), recently described from the UK. This portion lacks a large section present in its closest relative (Entoloma madidum). Photo © Simon Harding.

DNA barcoding is a method used to identify species. It works by analysing a specific region of DNA. This region is called the DNA barcode. The sequence of this DNA barcode is then compared to a reference library which contains information of many species linked to their barcodes.

There are different types of barcoding regions used for different biological kingdoms. For example, all animals are identified using the same specific DNA region, whilst all plants are identified using a different region.

The first step is to collect a sample for study. Then, using a tool like Bento Lab, DNA is extracted from the sample (1) and the target DNA region is amplified using PCR (2), meaning that lots of copies of the DNA barcode are made.

Visualisation of amplified DNA by gel electrophoresis (3) determines whether the PCR was successful. Finally, the DNA barcode is sequenced (4). The species can be identified by comparing the sequenced DNA barcode to reference databases. 

The DNA can be sequenced by sending the amplified DNA to a sequencing service or by using a portable DNA sequencing machine.

You can read more about DNA barcoding and the work of fungus groups across the UK in a blog by Dr Brian Douglas, Molecular Biologist and Community Fungus Survey Leader for the Lost and Found Fungi Project, Kew.

Although the Lost and Found Fungi Project has now officially concluded, the participating groups have continued using DNA methods and Bento are currently picking up the baton to ensure that the research is reproducible in the form of a Bento Lab bundle and barcoding workflow to make DNA barcoding of fungi as accessible as possible to field mycologists and passionate amateurs.

 

TOP IMAGE:

A diagnostic portion of the DNA barcode of a new species of Big Blue Pinkgill, Entoloma atromadidum (red box), recently described from the UK. This portion lacks a large section present in its closest relative (Entoloma madidum). Credit: Simon Harding/Bento 

Paul Sergeant

Paul Sergeant is Community Manager for Bento, the company developing the Bento Lab for portable DNA testing.

Hear about DNA barcoding in our 5 minutes of fungi videos

Bento Lab logo