Project Overview

CBG Units: All
Scope: BIOSCAN’s three research themes employ DNA barcodes to speed species discovery, to probe species interactions, and to track species dynamics
Project Duration: 2019 – 2028
Stage: In Progress
Reach: Global


Project Details

Can we establish a global biosurveillance system? Can we avert a planetary mass extinction?

Helping to answer these and other large-scale questions about life on Earth is the goal of BIOSCAN. A worldwide, interdisciplinary research team involving more than 70 team members at research institutions in Canada and abroad will inventory multicellular species, probe their interactions and dynamics while advancing our capacity to protect natural resources, ecosystems, and human health.

Expanding the DNA barcode reference library, housed in the informatics platforms at the CBG, is one of BIOSCAN’s central goals. To add new “volumes” of species to the database, the centre’s DNA sequencing equipment and “big data” tools crunch through DNA from specimens provided by scientists from the 40 member countries in the International Barcode of Life consortium, also based at the University.

Stemming global biodiversity loss is the overall goal of the project. By cataloguing what creatures live where, BIOSCAN is developing a baseline for monitoring ongoing changes to biodiversity and ecosystems. That’s critical information for accurately assessing and alleviating human impacts on other species through climate change, invasive species, wildlife trade, habitat disturbance, and resource use. Without action to stem biodiversity losses all evidence points to the first mass extinction event in 65 million years.

Through BIOSCAN, researchers expect to influence regulatory policies and practices worldwide to mitigate these losses.

Among various biodiversity projects worldwide, CBG researchers are working with colleagues in Costa Rica to examine the benefits derived from the transition to organic farming of pineapple on both beneficial insects and the birds that consume them. In collaboration with researchers in Ghana, metabarcoding is being used to map food webs involving insects and their predators to help control malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Here in Canada, CBG researchers are working with McCain Foods to advance its efforts to develop farming practices that promote soil biodiversity while improving crop yield. They are also barcoding Arctic species to help monitor biodiversity in the North.

The core mission of BIOSCAN lies with protecting the millions of species that share our planet. It’s the only way that humanity will achieve the UN’s goal of living in harmony with nature by mid-century.



Connect to BIOSCAN

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