The International Barcode of Life Project

Posted by on July 29, 2014 in Entrepreneurship
Issn_barcodeHave you heard of a bio-literate world? A world where you could know in minutes the name of any animal or plant – at any-time or place, including everything about that life-form, from what are its habits to is it endangered or dangerous?  Should it even be there, or is it an invader from somewhere else? Imagine how science could use this knowledge to protect the planet’s biodiversity and promote human health and well being? Sound far-fetched? Like something out of the film The Matrix? Well, it is happening right now and is called the International Barcode of Life project (iBOL), the largest biodiversity genomics initiative ever undertaken. It is a consortium of institutions building a database containing DNA barcodes for every species on the planet and unlocking the door to the world by creating a digital identification system for life. This amazing list currently hosts more than 400,000 species. In order to identify all the species on the planet, estimated at anywhere between 10 million to 100 million species, the iBOL project is looking to expand the number of people contributing to the research. The urgency of this task is clear as species are disappearing from the planet at an alarming rate. So, to help, SAP is collaborating with iBOL to build something called the LifeScanner application to crowdsource the collection and analyse all of this information. LifeScanner is an app available on iTunes that anyone can use on an iPhone to collect a tissue sample or whole organism, send it off for analysis and get the species identification using DNA barcodes from anywhere on the globe. The app ensures data integrity and works in places where there may not be network connectivity. The SAP University Alliances program will help crowdsource the analysis of data collected through the LifeScanner app. The published DNA barcode data is intended to be made available to researchers and students for study and to be accessed through SAP HANASAP® Lumira® software as well as other third-party analytics tools. The SAP University Alliances program’s global network includes more than 1500 universities in more than 80 countries worldwide. While the SAP HANA platform helps organisations better process facts so they can acquire, examine and act on insights in real time. Whether it is a better understanding of humans, or any other animal or planet species, there is no doubt that the iBOL project will gives us the opportunity to better comprehend life all around us. Using this information intelligently can help prevent the extinction of species, promote new life science discoveries and improve the health of life on our planet. A bio-literate world is definitely our future. Photo CreditWikimedia Commons

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