number of records:  30871
number of sequences:  23953
number of species:  3279
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Q:    Do you have a permanent collection?
A:    Every specimen used as a source for a reference DNA barcode must be associated with a voucher deposited with any internationally recognized collection, e.g., national or regional natural history museum. This should ensure their easy accessibility for examination by taxonomists. It is preferred that each specimen record is linked to an online database where its collection data will be publicly available. The records contained in the Barcode of Life Data System (BOLD) can have direct link-outs to these online portals.

    The Biodiversity Institute of Ontario has a collection facility and intends to hold a small representative collection of barcoded species linked to the reference barcode database. Therefore, it would be beneficial to future researchers if you would consider donating a portion of your material to be held here.

Q:    Who will ultimately "owns" the DNA generated as a by-product of DNA barcoding analysis or any residual tissue left from the samples sent to the DNA barcoding facility in Guelph?
A:    The Biodiversity Institute of Ontario is committed to respecting the intellectual and physical property of its contributors, particularly including internal tissue policies of contributing museums. There are three ways the donor may choose to provide the tissue: donation, permanent loan, or temporary loan. These conditions are outlined in more detail in the BIO Tissue Policy statement and are specified by the tissue provider in the Biological Materials Transfer Agreement.Unless donated, tissue and any DNA extracted from it remain the property of its original donor and will not be redistributed to third parties without the donor�s approval. It is particularly recommended that samples sent to BIO as temporary loans contain only the minimum amount of tissue required for one DNA extraction, thereby allowing consumptive analysis. For quality control purposes, BIO intends to keep residual DNA extracts from all tissues submitted for the duration of iBOL. These extracts will be subject to the same loan conditions as original tissue and, unless donated, will not be redistributed to third parties or used for non-barcoding analyses without permission from the donor. An aliquot of the DNA may be shipped back to the donor upon request.

We suggest that participants in the Polar Barcode of Life initiative consider the merits of donating the tissue samples and DNA extracts associated with their projects. This will help to facilitate research into the future, e.g. enabling the sequencing of additional genes in the future as sequencing costs are ever diminishing. Every attempt will be made to ensure that priority is given to follow-up requests for new tissue usages from the original donors.

Q:    What is the procedure for collaborators to get more DNA data for specimens besides COI? If someone is interested in sequencing other gene fragments for phylogenetic or other purposes, can they provide funding to Guelph to have the sequencing done there?
A:    The major focus of the barcoding initiative for animals is the barcode region of the mitochondrial gene COI. However, if common interests arise as projects proceed and multi-gene analysis is needed (e.g., for studying introgression), running non-COI genes is possible, especially if additional funds can be allocated to BIO to compensate chemical consumables and technician time. However, the feasibility will depend on the availability of the facilities at BIO and sufficient funding and should be negotiated with the campaign coordinator on a case-by-case basis. Such projects are usually given lower priority in the lab, compared to routine DNA barcoding analysis.
Q:    What is the policy on data sharing and authorship?
A:    Our policy with respect to authorship and intellectual property rights is outlined in the BIO Tissue Policy statement. Collaborators who make substantial contributions to the project (collecting, curating, identifying, etc.), are considered as co-authors of the resultant DNA barcoding publications. On the other hand, BIO researchers do not automatically demand authorship for other publications, such as taxonomic or phylogenetic works, that are generated merely using the DNA we produce. As a general rule, details of co-authorship should be negotiated at the initial stages of each project.

Q:    Will the sequences be automatically released? will they wait until I had published them?
A:    Data that are currently in BOLD will follow the prior policy on data release, which is that COI sequences are not be publicly accessible unless the project coordinator submits a specific request to release them. Normally, the collaborator and the project coordinator come up with agreements on how and when to publish the data. The collaborator can also share data with other people he/she wants to include in the project. The sequence data and progress are kept confidential between collaborators and project coordinator for a particular project. Starting July 1st, 2009, a new data release policy will be enacted, which is in line with typical genomics project requirements.

As the producer of a community resource (the DNA barcode library), the CCDB is expected to make genomic data publicly available within one week following their generation (see The information disclosed includes the DNA sequence, associated sequence trace files, BOLD Process ID (individual accession number automatically generated by BOLD), taxonomic position down to the ordinal level, and the country of origin. Information on associated voucher specimens, their detailed geographic origin, and detailed taxonomic position remains confidential at this pre-publication stage. The rapid release principle applies to all genomic information generated by the CCDB through support from its key finding agencies. In the genomics community, this data release model has worked well, and both publication and sequence annotation follow this preliminary release of raw sequence data.

All sequence data contained in BOLD (including unpublished projects) are used by the BOLD identification engine to provide DNA-based taxonomic identifications to public users submitting DNA barcode sequences. Reports generated by the BOLD identification engine include probability scores and tree-based identification with branch labels containing detailed taxonomic names, broad geographic localization (to province level), and corresponding BOLD Process ID�s. Information on individual specimens (museum catalogue numbers and place of voucher deposition) and their detailed geographic origin are not disclosed through the BOLD identification engine.

Once the initial specimen data submission has been made to BOLD, provenance information and images become partially available to the public online through the BOLD Taxonomy Browser at This information is used to generate summary statistics and illustrative distribution maps and does not disclose the contents of individual research projects and specimen data records.
Q:    What is the typical turnaround time for processing specimens at Guelph?
A:    All specimens go through a chain of processes until the sequence data reach the BOLD system. Typically, it takes 2-4 weeks from the tissue lysis step to the final upload of sequences to BOLD. And the process can be speeded up upon urgent needs. However, it is not unusual that the pre-lab steps can take extra time, specifically, entering and reformatting data entries that come with the specimens. To standardize the data format, we will provide some examples that meet the BOLD requirements at the time of project inception. Even if all data are correct, some variability in the time between receipt of specimens and the commencement of lab work can occur due to the varying volume of specimens in the queue. Projects with particular urgency should be discussed with the project manager, who will communicate with the core lab staff.

Q:    What are the obligations of external collaborators in order to have samples sequenced at Guelph?
A:    All specimens processed at Guelph must have the goal of being �barcode compliant�, which means that certain standards for data quality and completeness are achieved. Collaborators and internal project managers work together to ensure that this happens, and the distribution of tasks should be discussed at the beginning of each project. All specimens must be destined for permanent storage in a major collection and must be accessible for future research. Some specimen data fields are required for all specimens, including taxonomic identification (at various taxonomic levels depending upon the project), collector name, collection date, country, major administrative unit, and locality with GPS coordinates. Fragmentary information is acceptable only in the case of valuable museum material when that is all that is available. Biological information such as life stage (age), sex, and mode of reproduction are a valuable asset. All specimens must be photographed and the photos uploaded to BOLD. Finally, barcode-compliant records involve sequences that are at least 500 base pairs long; core laboratory personnel work towards this goal, but appreciate input from external collaborators regarding primer choice and any trouble-shooting that is needed. External collaborators are also asked to assist in resolving any data discrepancies that arise.

Q:    What happens in the case that errors or discrepancies arise?
A:    Because the CCDB core analytical facility is highly automated, analytical error rates are very low and are primarily due to human error at the early stages. Taxonomic misidentifications are not uncommon and are usually rectified by re-examining the photographs on BOLD or the original specimens. Tissues can be been placed into the wrong wells (mixed up), or cross-contamination between wells can occur during sampling. Such cases are the mo td class=divider1st problematic. Generally, records in BOLD should be annotated when this occurs and the sequences removed. Re-sampling from the original specimens may be performed. Contamination can occasionally involve DNA from outside organisms. (For example, if the specimens were prepared in an environment in which lepidopteran samples were also processed, then scales can occasionally get into other plates; this will be minimized through choosing clean preparation areas.) Annotation of records should be performed and specimens re-sampled. General contaminants such as human or Wolbachia (in insects) are easily detected and can be overcome through using taxon-specific primers.

As much as possible, discrepancies should be resolved by re-examining specimens and updating records. In cases where resolution is not possible, re-sampling from the original specimens may be performed. Always, it is good to evaluate whether this is a common species which already has several high-quality records. Putting this effort towards obtaining barcode records for new species, rather than repeating each failed specimen of common species, may be more productive. Close communication between CCDB staff and external collaborators is essential for quickly rectifying any discrepancies that occur.

Q:    What are your permit requirements for collecting and export/import?
A:    It is the sender�s responsibility to ensure that biological materials are shipped to the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario in compliance with any applicable shipping regulations, that they have been obtained under appropriate collection and animal care permits in their country of origin, and that the necessary export/import documentation required by Canadian and International customs and conservation authorities has been provided, including, but not limited to:
a) Export permit and/or zoosanitary certificate from the country of origin (if applicable);
b) CITES registry certificate for the provider institution (if applicable);
c) Canadian Food Inspection Agency import permit (if applicable).

The Biodiversity Institute of Ontario cannot be held responsible in the event the provider fails to supply proper shipping documentation, causing the shipment to be held up in customs, or any penalties resulting thereof. Upon request, we can advise on Canadian import requirements and assist in obtaining relevant permits. The Biodiversity Institute of Ontario is a CITES-registered institution (registry certificate CA022). It is advisable that any international transactions involving CITES-listed mammal species are facilitated by a CITES-registered institution, whereby they will qualify as scientific exchange, thus reducing the amount of required paperwork.


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