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Taxonomy, the science of naming and classifying organisms, is the foundation of biology. Identification and documentation
of all forms of life on earth and proper nomenclature of species provide the framework for organizing biological information
(Kumar and Jain, 2011). Existing morphology-based diagnostic approaches used by traditional taxonomists are often cumbersome
and based on ontogeny. Barcoding organizations note that taxonomists have identified only 15 per cent of all living species over
the past 250 years (Ebach and Holdrege, 2005).
DNA barcoding is a novel system designed to provide rapid, accurate and automatable species-identification by using short,
standardized gene regions as an internal species tag (Hebert and Gregory, 2005). Small region of the mitochondrial COI gene
is used in animals for such identification (Hebert et al., 2003). However, COI sequence is not appropriate in plants because of a
much slower rate of Cytochrome c oxidase I gene evolution (Kress et al., 2005). Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL)-Plant
working Group has recommended a combination of chloroplast genes rbcL and matK as the standard two-locus barcode for plants (Ratnasingham and Hebert, 2007).
Just like Universal Product Code (UPC) which uses a unique series of lines for identification and tracking of a given product,
DNA barcodes also uses a unique series of lines to identify a given species. These natural barcodes usually consist of 600 to 650 bp
DNA sequence in which each nitrogen base is represented by established colours (Adenine=Green, Thymine=Red, Cytosine=Blue
and Guanine=Black) (Hollingsworth, 2008).
DNA barcoding is advancing through the Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL), Barcode of Life Database (BOLD),
International Barcode of Life Project (iBOL) and Canadian Center for DNA Barcoding (CCDB). Their major barcoding projects are All Birds Barcoding Initiative, Fish Barcode of Life, Mosquitoes Barcoding of Life and Tephritid Barcoding Initiative of CBOL and Mammalian Barcode of Life.
DNA barcoding has emerged and established itself as an important tool for species-identification and phylogenetic studies in taxonomy. Apart from this, it has proved useful in protecting endangered animals, identifying agricultural pests and disease vectors, tracking adulteration in products and thereby sustaining environment.
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