Methods in Molecular Biology Volume 858, 2012, pp 379-393

Plant DNA Barcodes, Taxonomic Management, and Species Discovery in Tropical Forests

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Abstract

DNA barcodes have great potential for species identification and taxonomic discovery in tropical forests. This use of DNA barcodes requires a reference DNA library of known taxa with which to match DNA from unidentified specimens. At an even more basic level, it presupposes that the species in the regional species pool have Latin binomials. This is not the case in species-rich tropical forests in which many species are new to science or members of poorly circumscribed species complexes. This chapter describes a workflow geared toward taxonomic discovery, which includes the discovery of new species, distribution records, and hybrid forms, and to management of taxonomic entities in forest inventory plots. It outlines the roles of laboratory technicians, field workers and herbarium-based taxonomists, and concludes with a discussion of potential multilocus nuclear DNA approaches for identifying species in recently evolved clades.