In commemoration of Alabama’s bicentennial year, HudsonAlpha is launching Bicentennial Barcoding, a citizen science project to genetically catalog Alabama’s native plant diversity.
For the project, Alabama high school students will become plant detectives … hoping to discover the hidden treasures of Alabama’s rich plant biodiversity. Institute educators will provide training and classroom resources for high school students and teachers from across the state, in coordination with community partners. With guidance from local experts, students across Alabama will photograph native plants and record the plant’s GPS-based location data. A tiny sample – essentially a hole-punch from one leaf – will then be sent to HudsonAlpha for DNA extraction and preparation of samples for sequencing.
Using a freely available DNA analysis program, students will examine the resulting DNA sequences and look for a match to existing barcodes. Just like barcodes found in the grocery store identify specific consumer products, a “DNA barcode” is a short genetic sequence that uniquely identifies each species. If a sequence is not currently a part of the International Barcode of Life database – a reference library that is a foundation for a DNA-based identification system for all multi-cellular life – the students will have opportunity to submit the sample for validation and register a new entry in the international database.
Become a Community Partner
We are searching statewide for community partners who are experts in Alabama native plants to partner with their local schools and catalog the biodiversity in our state. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about becoming a community partner.
Bicentennial Barcoding is a collaboration between HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and the Alabama Bicentennial, which supports, creates and executes events that commemorate the state’s history. The project is made possible by the Lyndhurst Foundation, Vulcan Materials Company Foundation and other philanthropic donations.