At the forefront of DNA sequencing research and technologies while serving as the world’s largest analytical hub for DNA barcoding

The Genomics Unit is a state-of-the-art laboratory facility boasting a team with expertise in DNA barcode-based species identification services and technologies to advance the application and adoption of DNA barcoding.

The Unit Manages

World-Leading Genomics Facility

An Analytical Hub for DNA Barcoding

First established as a core genomics facility for the CBG’s scientific team and its research, the Unit now delivers reliable and comprehensive genetic identification services to numerous academic, government, and private organizations. It achieves this goal by basing identifications upon the analysis of sequence diversity in short genome regions, termed DNA barcodes. Empowered by more than $7M in sequencing and liquid handling instrumentation and 20 skilled staff, the Genomics Unit leads the world in both the development of new molecular protocols and in the generation of DNA barcode records.

High-Throughput Methods

Unrivalled Sequencing Capabilities

The Genomics Unit’s unique capabilities include the employment of high-throughput methods to gather DNA barcodes from vast numbers of specimens with various levels of DNA preservation and across a variety of biological life. Establishing such capabilities requires the development, optimization, and validation of laboratory protocols and operating procedures for every analytical step to ensure accurate and reproducible results for the thousands of samples processed each day. The capacity of the Genomics Unit to analyze specimens is unrivalled. As of 2022, in addition to thousands of metabarcoding and metagenomic samples, the lab processes more than two million specimens each year – from a tissue sample to DNA barcode record.

Research & Development

Advancing Species Identification & Discovery

To keep up with the CBG’s increasing research demands, the Genomics Unit is continuously expanding its repertoire of molecular tools for biodiversity genomics. One area of research focuses on DNA preservation methods to facilitate long-term protection of genomic resources for future research, including specimens with degraded DNA. The Unit also uses high-throughput DNA sequencing to assemble DNA barcode libraries from century-old museum specimens and carries out large-scale DNA-based biodiversity surveys. Most recently, the team has been working towards improved protocols for uncovering species interactions through long read Hi-Fi sequencing. Because of its unique expertise, the Genomics Unit serves as a model research facility for the DNA barcoding and biodiversity genomics community.  Over the past five years, the Unit has been involved in research projects with more than 200 research organizations, government agencies, and private sector firms based in over 50 nations.

Scientific Impact

Supporting Global Research Efforts

The Genomics Unit’s most recent achievement is tied to the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) Consortium’s global biodiversity research program, BIOSCAN. It is the largest initiative ever undertaken in biodiversity genomics that is on target to deliver on its promise to assemble a DNA barcode library for two million species of animals, plants, and fungi by 2028. The CCDB has generated nearly 75% of the twelve million DNA barcode records that are now available. The Genomics Unit also curates extracted DNA from over eleven million specimens which represent nearly half a million species. The globally unique resource aids researchers around the globe to probe deeper into understanding of ecology, taxonomy, and evolution of biodiversity on the planet. In addition to the DNA archives and its involvement in BIOSCAN, the scientific impact of the Unit is evidenced by the number of papers published by its researchers and collaborators; Google Scholar indicates that it has been cited for analytical support in nearly 2000 publications.

Expanding knowledge of life on our planet