Paul Hebert
Scientific Director, iBOL

Dirk Steinke
Outreach & Educational
Coordinator, iBOL

It was only 10 years ago that the concept of DNA barcoding was born. It is a simple, but powerful idea: DNA sequence variation in short, standard regions of the genome can accelerate species discovery and identification. DNA barcoding is already being employed by hundreds of researchers to better understand and protect biodiversity at many sites across the globe. In late 2010, these researchers formed an alliance to launch the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) project, the largest research effort ever undertaken in biodiversity genomics. Working toward the goal of building a DNA-based identification system for all multicellular life on Earth, iBOL scientists will assemble DNA barcode records from at least 500,000 species by 2015.

A number of opportunities exist for students and citizen scientists to contribute to this landmark scientific project. Although DNA barcoding is technically straightforward and conceptually accessible to non-experts, DNA barcode records are only valuable to the research community when they meet a core set of scientific data standards. The innovative resources available through the eBOL Community Web Portal equip students with the knowledge and tools needed to meet these standards and to assist iBOL scientists in building the global barcode reference library. With the help of eBOL, we look forward to a future where students working in school and university labs around the world can join the iBOL community in its effort to extend our understanding of Earth’s biodiversity – one barcode record at a time.

On behalf of the scientific team leading the International Barcode of Life Project, we congratulate all those involved in the creation of eBOL. It is our sincere hope that scientists and educators will build upon this collaborative effort by sharing their valuable ideas and insights for bridging barcoding and education.