This program, started in 2002 and completed in 2010, aimed to speed the building and use of a library of short DNA sequences (barcodes) to identify animal and plant species reliably and inexpensively.
In a series of two dozen grants totaling more than $11.5 million, the Foundation supported a diverse range of activities to foster the development and adoption of DNA barcoding. Grant funds supported the scientific evaluation and selection of gene regions for use in species identification; the networking of museums, libraries, herbaria, laboratories and other stakeholder institutions; the advancement of DNA barcoding efforts for specific genera, like fungi, fish, and marine microbes; and the launch of demonstration projects and other outreach activities designed to illustrate the wide range of practical applications to which DNA barcoding can be put, including its usefulness to state and international regulatory agencies concerned with environmental and consumer protection.
Legacies of Sloan grantmaking in this area include a number of lasting scientific and professional institutions devoted to continuing the development and adoption of DNA barcoding, including the Consortium for the Barcode of Life, the International Barcode of Life, and the Barcode of Life Database. In part due to Foundation support, DNA barcoding has blossomed into a mature and mainstream part of 21st century biological science: regularly used in a variety of scientific disciplines from genomics to zoology to evolutionary biology; incorporated into standard scientific textbooks and curricula; and increasingly embraced by national and international regulatory bodies as an indispensable tool for combatting poaching, protecting endangered species, and preventing consumer fraud.