Instantly Identify Any Species With Your Cell Phone, Using The Barcode Of Life

As a group of scientists completes a database of every living creature's DNA, everyone--from conservationists to border agents and homeowners battling insects--will be able to have their own easy mobile biology lab.
Dec 11, 2013 12:05 PM ET

Original article on Fast Company

There are 1.8 million species in danger of extinction. You probably wouldn't be able to recognize most of them if they crawled, flew, or swam by you. But what if you could read the "barcode" of any creature's DNA? Then it might be a whole lot easier for border agents to halt smuggling operations--and for lay people to do their part, too.

In the not-so-distant-future, a cell phone attachment may let you instantaneously sequence a creature's DNA. This isn't useful just for stopping smugglers. The technology could help you figure out the answers to more mundane questions, like what kind of bugs are invading your home.

The International Barcode of Life consortium(IBOL), a group of institutions spanning 25 countries, is on a quest to create a 500,000-species DNA barcode database by 2015 (barcodes are standardized snippets of DNA that can identify a species). Eventually, the consortium wants to barcode every species on the planet.

The data management and analytics company SAP is working with the consortium on building a platform to collect, analyze, and store the DNA barcoding data. "We met these guys [from the consortium], and they said, 'Look, we're collecting all this data, but we don't know where to store it,'" explains David Jonker, SAP's Director of Big Data Marketing. "We spent quite a bit of time with them in design thinking workshops, eventually designing a solution to crowdsource a selection of DNA samples."

Continue reading the original article about SAP and the Barcode of Life on Fast Company >>

Original source Fast Company.