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Keywords:

  • DNA barcoding;
  • bioinformatics;
  • database searching

Abstract

DNA barcoding is based on the use of short DNA sequences to provide taxonomic tags for rapid, efficient identification of biological specimens. Currently, reference databases are being compiled. In the future, it will be important to facilitate access to these databases, especially for nonspecialist users. The method described here provides a rapid, web-based, user-friendly link between the DNA sequence from an unidentified biological specimen and various types of biological information, including the species name. Specifically, we use a customized, Google-type search algorithm to quickly match an unknown DNA sequence to a list of verified DNA barcodes in the reference database. In addition to retrieving the species name, our web tool also provides automatic links to a range of other information about that species. As the DNA barcode database becomes more populated, it will become increasingly important for the broader user community to be able to exploit it for the rapid identification of unknown specimens and to easily obtain relevant biological information about these species. The application presented here meets that need.