Organisms Diversity & Evolution

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 1–12 | Cite as

The application of “-omics” technologies for the classification and identification of animals

  • Michael J. Raupach
  • Rudolf Amann
  • Quentin D. Wheeler
  • Christian Roos


The correct classification of organisms based on specific rules is essential in biological sciences. Traditionally, morphological characteristics such as size, shape, color, and anatomical structures have been used to identify and classify species. However, as consequence of the tremendous advances in molecular technologies during the last years, new approaches have become available for taxonomic research. Various modern high-throughput technologies allow the detailed characterization of the genome, proteome, metabolome as well as the morphology of an organism. Furthermore, the open access storage of such comprehensive data sets as part of an uprising digital cybertaxonomy enables highly fascinating digital dimensions for modern taxonomy, including the buildup of virtual collections as well as data sets for 3D printing techniques that can be used to replicate complete voucher specimens or at least important diagnostic characters. As a result of these advances, we are now able to document, describe, and identify species much more comprehensively than just a few years ago. In this review we provide an overview about the technical advances in taxonomic research in recent years and discuss their power and limitations.


Applied taxonomy Cybertaxonomy Genomics Integrative taxonomy Metabolomics Metazoa Proteomics Transcriptomics 



This review is in part based on the hearings and discussions within the working group “Taxonomic Research in the Era of OMICS Technologies” of the Leopoldina–Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften (German National Academy of Sciences). We thank all participants of the working group for sharing their views and opinions. The English version of the statement “Challenges and Opportunities of Integrative Taxonomy for Research and Society” can be found here: We thank Terue Cristina Kihara for using the 3D model of the serolid isopod specimen, Karin Pointner for the permission to use the copepod image as well as Ortwin Bleich for his permission to use the ground beetle image taken from We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the manuscript.

Ethical approval

The authors ensure that accepted principles of ethical and professional conduct have been followed. No potential conflicts of interest are given.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no potential conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Raupach
    • 1
  • Rudolf Amann
    • 2
  • Quentin D. Wheeler
    • 3
  • Christian Roos
    • 4
  1. 1.German Center of Marine Biodiversity ResearchSenckenberg am MeerWilhelmshavenGermany
  2. 2.Max Planck Institute for Marine MicrobiologyBremenGermany
  3. 3.State University of New York College of Environmental Science and ForestrySyracuseUSA
  4. 4.Gene Bank of Primates, Primate Genetics Laboratory, German Primate CenterLeibniz Institute for Primate ResearchGöttingenGermany

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