DNA Barcoding of Plants

Cracking the DNA Code:  On a small island near Washington, DC, Smithsonian researchers have found a genetic code that could revolutionize botany.


Until recently, taxonomists needed a plant’s flowers or fruits to classify it, meaning they had to collect samples at specific times of the year (phenology).  But with DNA barcoding, they can use any part of the plant – seeds, bark, roots or leaves – to identify it.  “But the biggest benefit is that you won’t have to be an expert,” says Kress.

In the not-so-distant future, even school children will be able to identify plants with hand-held DNA sequencers.  They could then upload the barcodes via their iPhone to an on-line encyclopedia with basics about the species, botanical art, photos and anecdotal information.


Mark’s Rant:  I can’t wait to have a hand-held DNA sequencer!  There goes a goodly part of my livelihood, now anyone can become an expert botanist.  The article uses the term “Woodcraft,” which means the skill and practice in anything relating to the woods and especially in maintaining oneself and making one’s way in the woods.