Polar Biology

, 32:1629 | Cite as

Barcoding Antarctic Biodiversity: current status and the CAML initiative, a case study of marine invertebrates

  • Rachel Anne GrantEmail author
  • Katrin Linse
Original Paper


The Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML) aims to collate DNA barcode data for Antarctic marine species. DNA barcoding is a technique that uses a short gene sequence from a standardised region of the genome as a diagnostic ‘biomarker’ for species. This study aimed to quantify genetic data currently available in GenBank in order to establish whether a representative cross-section of Antarctic marine taxa and bio-geographic areas has been sequenced and to propose priorities for barcoding, with a particular emphasis on marine invertebrate species. It was found that, amongst marine invertebrate fauna, sequence information covers a limited range of taxa and areas—mainly Crustacea, Annelida and Mollusca from the Weddell Sea and the Antarctic Peninsula. Only 15% of genes sequenced in Antarctic marine invertebrates were the standard barcode gene cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (CO1), the majority were other nuclear and mitochondrial genes. There is an urgent need for more in-depth genetic barcoding and species identification studies in Antarctic science, from a range of taxa and areas, given the rate of climate-driven habitat changes that might lead to extinctions in the region. CAML hopes to redress the balance, by collecting and sequencing over the circum-Antarctic area, using material from voyages that occurred during 2008 and 2009, within the framework of the International Polar Year (IPY).


Antarctic Barcoding Molecular phylogenetics Marine biodiversity Invertebrates 



This manuscript is contribution number 16 to the Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML) Project. The work was funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation under CAML. Thanks to Victoria Wadley and Jan Strugnell for helpful comments on the manuscript and to Huw Griffiths for producing the Antarctic map. Thanks to three anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Scott Polar Research InstituteUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.British Antarctic SurveyNatural Environmental Research CouncilCambridgeUK

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