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Wales becomes first country to DNA barcode all flowering plants

27 June 2012

Wales has become the first country in the world to DNA barcode all its flowering plants, enabling scientists to explore new groundbreaking health and conservation research.

The project, led by the National Botanic Garden’s head of conservation and research, Dr Natasha de Vere, has created a reference database of DNA barcodes based on the 1,143 native flowering plants and conifers of Wales, assembling over 5,700 DNA barcodes in the process.

It means that for the first time, plants can be identified from pollen grains, fragments of seed or roots, wood, dung, stomach contents or environmental samples collected from the air, soil or water.

“Wales is now in the unique position of being able to identify plant species from materials which in the past would have been incredibly difficult or impossible,” Dr de Vere said.

“Through the Barcode Wales project, we have created a powerful platform for a broad range of research from biodiversity conservation to human health.”

The Welsh flora DNA barcodes have already been made freely available on the Barcode of Life Database where researchers throughout the world can access the information for their own research purposes.

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