One of the major activities of the Science programme at the National Botanic Garden of Wales is the DNA barcoding of plant species. Our work made Wales the first nation in the world to DNA barcode its native flowering plants and conifers. We are continuing to build on this resource by DNA barcoding the rest of the UK flora.
Barcode UK covers 1,479 native flowering plant and conifer species, with 6,400 individual plants sampled. Each plant species is DNA barcoded three times using three different individuals. The identification of each plant species is also verified by an expert. We use plant DNA barcode regions rbcL, matK, and ITS2. These DNA barcodes are recognised internationally and are used to create a standardised approach for all researchers.
The final DNA barcode for each species are published in the Barcode of Life Database. On each species record page in the database, you can find the DNA barcode sequences, the collection details and a picture of the herbarium specimen. This collection is available for all researchers to use.
Our Barcode UK resource provides an open-access research platform that can be used by researchers throughout the world. It provides a unique opportunity for UK scientists to develop applications ranging from biodiversity conservation to human health.
We are currently using Barcode UK to support our pollinator research, looking at where our honey bees are foraging, what plants hoverflies are visiting, as well as finding out the floral source of honeys. We are developing bioinformatic resources to support DNA barcoding. Our DNA barcodes are also being used to understand pollen movement for hay fever sufferers and to help understand plant community structure.