BOLD: Barcode of Life Data Systems

BOLD v4 Beta

Project Overview

Title: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)
CBG Unit: Informatics
Scope: High-powered informatics platform that supports interdisciplinary genomics research through big data management workflows, analytical tools, and publication pathways
Project Duration: 2005-Present
Reach: 16K users from 193 nations; 4.6M+ DNA barcodes


Project Details

The Barcode of Life Data System (BOLD) was launched in 2005 as a workbench and repository in support of a growing community of researchers focused on building a DNA barcode library for all eukaryotic life. This platform has seen heavy use in library construction and application as evidenced by the 4.6M+ barcodes representing 500K+ species hosted, and over 30K specimen identifications provided per week. Additionally, overwhelming success of DNA barcode studies across the taxonomic spectrum has resulted in the rapid adoption of this platform in other life science fields such as systematics, ecology, forensics, and conservation biology.

The latest version of BOLD, version 4, was released in December of 2015. It includes several advances, but two features merit mention as they address the challenges and opportunities linked to the rising volume of DNA barcode data. BOLD now hosts 4.6M barcodes and publications are mobilizing large volumes of them. The first barcode paper in 2003 was based on 500 records while a recent manuscript included 1M. The data volume associated with this paper represented a significant bioinformatics challenge and one that could only be handled because of the capabilities provided by a beta version of BOLD4. In addition, the diversity and volume of data available permit the testing of a broader range of increasingly complex hypotheses. To facilitate such investigations, BOLD4 includes a sophisticated Advanced Programming Interface (API) which provides access to both public data and secure access to private data, allowing bioinformaticians, programmers, and others to construct analytical modules that expand on functionalities made available through the efforts of the BOLD programming team. The beta version of this API has already been employed to automate the extraction of data from BOLD to expedite and formalize the publication of specimen records (Fernandez-Triana J et al. 2014. Biodiversity Data Journal 2: e4153).


Key Project Metrics

1. Interdisciplinary international research community (Connectivity).

BOLD Social Network - 2015 BOLD supports 1000+ institutions in 94 nations in the secure sharing of biodiversity and DNA sequence data.

2. Growth of Database (Data Volume & Users)
BOLD has grown to become a key resource in the biodiversity genomics research field as can be seen from the rapid rise in users and volume of data hosted.



Ratnasingham S and PDN Hebert. 2007. BOLD: The Barcode of Life Data System ( Molecular Ecology Notes 7: 355-364. (PDF)

Ratnasingham S and PDN Hebert. 2013. A DNA-based registry for all animal species: The Barcode Index Number (BIN) System. PLoS ONE 8: e66213. (PDF)



Ontario MRI
Genome Canada

Ontario Genomics


Connect to BOLD

For more information on the Barcode of Life Data Systems visit