[Taxacom] inapplicability of mtDNA barcoding to insects

Karl Magnacca kmagnacca at alumni.wesleyan.edu
Sat Sep 29 23:20:40 CDT 2007

On Fri, September 28, 2007 10:57 am, Schindel, David wrote:
> In answer to your first question, CBOL has never argued that barcoding
> is restricted to COI.  Please refer to CBOL's protocols for proposing
> non-COI barcode regions, posted at
> http://www.barcoding.si.edu/PDF/Guidelines%20for%20non-CO1%20selection%2
> 0-%204%20June.pdf.  CBOL is working with representatives of several
> taxonomic communities who are developing proposals to give non-COI
> regions "barcode status" as recorded in GenBank, EMBL and DDBJ.
> I hope this lays one myth to rest.

It is worth noting, however, that when this was brought up at the recent
meeting, one of the data management leaders at the Guelph center said that
yes, using other gene regions was possible, but that you would be "dooming
yourself to isolation" by doing so (not a direct quote, but not far off

One other thing that has always bothered me is that COI seems to have been
decided on as the default barcoding gene without a lot of investigation
into whether it was really the best choice.  The plant people (who don't
have anything that works nearly as well) are putting a lot of work into
finding which gene(s) is/are the absolute best, while as far as I know COI
was picked mainly because it had already been sequenced a lot (and much of
that was for phylogenetics, where it isn't very good but keeps being
used).  There are reasons why mtDNA is useful in general, but I wouldn't
be surprised if one of the ND or ATPase genes turns out to be a better
separator of species.

Karl Magnacca, UC-Berkeley
ESPM Dept., 137 Mulford Hall #3114

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