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A bar code standard for plant DNA

"An international panel of scientists has agreed to a bar-code standard for plant DNA that will allow the precise identification of most of Earth's 300,000 species of plants, according to a research report due to be published this week.

The agreement is expected to generate a wide range of benefits, from checking the purity of herbal supplements to exposing illegal logging operations and helping to protect fragile plant ecosystems, observers said.

In the animal and plant kingdoms, technicians use a short DNA sequence called a region to identify species. The one region chosen for animals has proven highly effective in identifying such diverse organisms as butterflies and birds. But researchers have found it far more difficult to establish a single bar-code standard for plants. It must contain a sequence that is universal to all plants yet unique to a species "over a tremendous variation of groups, from mosses and liverworts to flowering plants over several hundred millions of years," said David Schindel, executive secretary of the Washington-based Consortium for the Barcode of Life.

The 52-member Plant Working Group has recommended that two regions be used, after four years of scientific haggling that whittled the number to seven candidates. The recommendation is made in a research report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."

While this is not really the microbial news you can expect from MicrobeWorld it does raise the question if something like this could be done for microbes? My guess is that it may be next to impossible. What do you think?

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