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Barcode of Life Project Expects $35M in New Support

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Canada-led International Barcode of Life (iBOL) project has received pledges for new support totaling C$35 million ($34.9 million) from its major supporters, which raises its total support from these funders to $80 million.

The supporters include the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, Genome Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the International Development Research Centre.

Genome Canada said this week that its 2010 budget of C$75 million includes C$4.6 million set aside for iBOL.

The Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation plans to give iBOL C$8.1 million over the next five years, in addition to its earlier C$5 million award, to enable expansion of the informatics platform for the DNA barcode data.

The Natural Sciences Engineering Research Council of Canada has awarded C$1.2 million for new DNA barcoding research programs, and Canada's International Development Research Centre has provided C$2.2 million to enable researchers in Argentina, Costa Rica, Kenya, Peru, and South Africa to collaborate with the barcoding project.

Another project funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation will use C$18 million to start the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, which will serve as iBOL's scientific hub, at the University of Guelph. That center will be completed in the fall of 2011.

The iBOL project spans 26 countries and involves obtaining DNA barcode records and building an informatics platform to store and share all of this data.

The project's participants aim to gather DNA barcode records for five million specimens taken from 500,000 species, and to deliver an effective identification system for species that are commonly encountered by humans. The effort also is expected to create a foundation for the creation of a barcode reference library of all of life.

Paul Hebert, iBOL's scientific director, said in a statement that the project will officially activate on Oct. 24, 2010, at an event during the Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Japan.

Genome Canada's Thomas Caskey, who chairs the board of directors, said that the project "will be of immense value not only to scientists but also in applications such as maintaining the integrity of our food supply, battling invasive alien species, and forensic sciences."

"We anticipate that the funded research and resources at the Canadian node for iBOL will be greatly leveraged by iBOL nodes in other countries that have already committed funds and research efforts to the project, and will help other potential international partners finalize their commitments to participate in iBOL," Ontario Genomics Institute President and CEO Christian Burks added.

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