It is a risky task to attempt to predict the direction that DNA barcoding and its applications may take in the future. In a very short time, the endeavor of DNA barcoding has gone from being a tool to facilitate taxonomy in difficult to identify species, to an ambitious, global initiative that seeks to tackle such pertinent and challenging issues as quantifying global biodiversity, revolutionizing the forensic identifications of species, advancing the study of interactions among species, and promoting the reconstruction of evolutionary relationships within communities. The core element of DNA barcoding will always remain the same: the generation of a set of well-identified samples collected and genotyped at one or more genetic barcode markers and assembled into a properly curated database. But the application of this body of data will depend on the creativity and need of the research community in using a “gold standard” of annotated DNA sequence data at the species level. We foresee several areas where the application of DNA barcode data is likely to yield important evolutionary, ecological, and societal insights, and while far from exclusive, provide examples of how DNA barcode data will continue to empower scientists to address hypothesis-driven research. Three areas of immediate and obvious concern are (1) biodiversity inventories, (2) phylogenetic applications, and (3) species interactions.
Key wordsDNA barcode Biodiversity Phylogenetics Ecology Trophic CO1 Next-generation sequencing
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