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UJ hosts 7th International Barcode of Life Conference in Skukuza 20-24 Nov

​Hosted for the first time on the African continent, the 7th International Barcode of Life (iBOL) Conference places special emphasis on the evolutionary origins, biogeography, and conservation of African flora and fauna.

The iBOL 2017 Conference is hosted by the African Centre for DNA Barcoding at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), the International Barcode of Life Project and the Department of Environmental Affairs, South Africa.

The conference coincides with the launch of the LAB-IN-A-BOX, a portable lab that can be deployed to field sites with major applications to wildlife crime and the detection of invasive species. The launch will take place during the iBOL conference on 20 November 2017 at the LifeScanner training course.

With the existing LifeScanner application, people can actively participate in the world’s largest biodiversity initiative by contributing data and specimens, and then follow the analytical progress using a mobile app. Conference plenary speaker Sujeevan Ratnasingham says of Lifescanner,” incorporating citizen science with education and research can be extremely beneficial for understanding life on earth”.

iBOL founder Prof Paul Hebert, from the University of Guelph, Canada, will present the keynote address for the conference. According to Hebert having an awareness of the earth’s species distribution and diversity is vital for conservation of life on our planet. However, numerous species are becoming extinct before we even know what they are and what role they play in our ecosystems. DNA barcoding provides the means to map and register life on earth at a greater speed than ever before, creating an inventory of multicellular life within reach on earth.

The conference will take place at the Nombolo Mdhluli Conference Centre, Skukuza, located within the heart of African wildlife, the Kruger National Park, South Africa from 20 – 24 November 2017. The conference will be attended by 470 delegates from 73 nations.

Researchers will showcase the latest scientific achievements in DNA barcoding tackling socio-economic challenges such as agricultural pests, quarantine and invasive species, wildlife forensics, disease vectors, and marketplace surveys.

Potential measures for future strategic direction in conservation of biodiversity will also be addressed. A highlight of the conference is presentations on environmental DNA and the diverse uses of high-throughput sequencing techniques which are opening new avenues for environmental biomonitoring, managing species-at-risk and invasive species.

“Our intention is to make this a global conference with a distinctive African flavor, using the event to highlight, support and encourage African researchers across the continent and to link them up with the global barcoding network,” says Prof Michelle van der Bank, head of the Local Organizing Committee of the conference, and Director of the African Centre for DNA Barcoding, located within the UJ Department of Botany and Plant Biotechnology.

White Rhino
A southern white rhino at Lake Nakuru in Kenya. Rhinos are threatened with extinction because of illegal trade in their horns, which forms part of global wildlife trafficking and wildlife crime. Image by Ryan Harvey on Wikimedia Commons.



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