Species identification

The identification of organisms is growing in importance as we monitor the biological effects of climate change and attempt to preserve species diversity in the face of accelerating habitat destruction. Our species identification service can identify your sample, even if it is small, damaged, or industrially processed material. For samples containing a mixture of species, we recommend our metabarcoding service.

When you contact us to discuss your identification requirements we will use our 15 years of molecular identification experience to propose the most appropriate analyses for your goals. Be assured that our priority is to provide the identifications you require in the most cost-effective way possible.

Our customers have used our identification service for a wide range of applications so far:

  • Academic research, cataloguing and characterising new species (various, including nematode worms, spiders, insects and phytoplankton)
  • Accurate identification of fish (for a food fraud investigation)
  • Identification of bird remains from a plane birdstrike incident
  • Fungal identification
  • Identification of “mystery” plants in an allotment garden
  • Determination of the meat used in takeaway food

 

Additional services: phylogenetics, comparisons and publications

Our identification service can also identify new and cryptic species and, with our applied bioinformatics expertise, we also offer a phylogenetics service where we will compare your specimen to other taxa to provide context to your results. We can also help and advise if you wish to publish the results of the analysis.

The technique

DNA barcoding is a method originally developed in 2003 (Hebert et al, 2003) for the identification of invertebrates using a standardised 650bp region of the Cytochrome oxidase I (COI) gene. Just like Universal Product Codes which identify supermarket products, a DNA barcode is a unique pattern of DNA sequence that identifies each organism. Over the last ten years it has been expanded to other taxonomic groups with additional genes. We assess the material you send for identification and carry out the most appropriate identification test for your sample. We are committed to identifying your sample for a fixed fee, regardless of the number of markers we have to test in order to produce a robust identification.

References

Hebert et al (2003) Biological identifications through DNA barcodesProceedings of the Royal Society B 270(1512), 313-321