A minimalist barcode can identify a specimen whose DNA is degraded

Mehrdad Hajibabaei, M. Alex Smith, Daniel H. Janzen, Josephine J. Rodriguez, James B. Whitfield, Paul D.N. Hebert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A DNA barcode based on 650 bp of mitochondrial gene cytochrome c oxidase I is proving to be highly functional in species identification for various animal groups. However, DNA degradation complicates the recovery of a full-length barcode from many museum specimens. Here we explore the use of shorter barcode sequences for identification of such specimens. We recovered short sequences - i.e. ∼100 bp - with a single PCR pass from more than 90% of the specimens in assemblages of moth and wasp museum specimens from which full barcode recovery was only 50%, and the latter were usually less than 8 years old. Short barcodes were effective in identifying specimens, confirming their utility in circumstances where full barcodes are too expensive to obtain and the identification comparisons are within a confined taxonomic group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)959-964
Number of pages6
JournalMolecular Ecology Notes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006


  • COI
  • DNA barcoding
  • DNA degradation
  • Fish
  • Lepidoptera
  • Museum specimens
  • Parasitic wasps
  • Taxonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Ecology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'A minimalist barcode can identify a specimen whose DNA is degraded'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this