Issue compiled and edited by Paul DN Hebert, Mehrdad Hajibabaei and Peter M Hollingsworth
How many species live in a gram of soil, in a litre of seawater, or in a hectare of rain forest? How many species inhabit our planet? How do these species interact and how are they being impacted by climate change and shifting land use? Answering these questions requires the ability to overcome the past difficulty in both discriminating known species and recognizing new ones. DNA barcoding, the analysis of sequence diversity in standardized gene regions, evolved within the field of biosystematics as a tool to resolve these uncertainties. Since its introduction in 2003, it has gained rapid uptake, motivated by its diverse scientific and socioeconomic applications. A decade ago, the Philosophical Transactions published a special issue entitled 'DNA Barcoding of Life', which considered the potential of this approach to revolutionize the documentation of global biodiversity. This new issue, 'From DNA barcodes to biomes', reveals how this potential is being realized, how the five million DNA barcode records now available are changing the scale and scope of biodiversity analyses.
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