DNA Barcodes pp 339-353 | Cite as

DNA Mini-barcodes

  • Mehrdad HajibabaeiEmail author
  • Charly McKenna
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 858)


Conventional DNA barcoding uses an approximately 650 bp DNA barcode of the mitochondrial gene COI for species identification in animal groups. Similar size fragments from chloroplast genes have been proposed as barcode markers for plants. While PCR amplification and sequencing of a 650 bp fragment is consistent in freshly collected and well-preserved specimens, it is difficult to obtain a full-length barcode in older museum specimens and samples which have been preserved in formalin or similar DNA-unfriendly preservatives. A comparable issue may prevent effective DNA-based authentication and testing in processed biological materials, such as food products, pharmaceuticals, and nutraceuticals. In these cases, shorter DNA sequences—mini-barcodes—have been robustly recovered and shown to be effective in identifying majority of specimens to a species level. Furthermore, short DNA regions can be utilized via high-throughput sequencing platforms providing an inexpensive and comprehensive means of large-scale species identification. These properties of mini-barcodes, coupled with the availability of standardized and universal primers make mini-barcodes a feasible option for DNA barcode analysis in museum samples and applied diagnostic and environmental biodiversity analysis.

Key words

DNA barcoding Museum specimens Biodiversity COI Formalin Molecular diagnostics 



This work was supported by grants from Genome Canada through the Ontario Genomics Institute, Environment Canada and NSERC to MH.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biodiversity Institute of Ontario & Integrative BiologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Department of Integrative Biology and Biodiversity Institute of OntarioUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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