Science Reporting

Portable DNA sequencers will allow millions of new species to be discovered

Today, determining the existence of new animal species has become easier because it is “enough” to identify the DNA profile to be sure of being faced with a new species, a differentiation that until a few years ago could only be made after long and difficult tests.

However, DNA analysis is a process that can only be carried out in the laboratory, which means that researchers who go “on an adventure,” ie those who wander around the various habitats and environmental ecosystems in search of new species, may find it very difficult to capture the species and take them to the laboratory for analysis.

It is in this context that a project carried out by researcher Paul Hebert of the University of Guelph in Canada could prove very important. The researcher, together with his team, will lead various expeditions that will use a sort of portable genomic laboratory that will allow you to analyze the samples “in the field.” The researchers intend to identify more than 2 million new species of multi-cellular creatures in a global effort funded to the tune of 180 million dollars.

“Biodiversity science is entering a very golden age,” Hebert himself says in an article on the Science website. To understand if a specimen is part of a new species could take away now only a few hours of time and especially a few cents in cost.

It will be a sort of analysis like the one done with bar codes, in this case done with portable DNA sequencers, fast and cheap: just analyze a single portion of DNA and find the markers of differentiation of the species.