DNA Barcoding of Vascular Plants:

Purpose: Establishment of a barcoding system for vascular plants of the study sites to support species identification and to assign fine roots to species. Data will not only be shared within the CRC, but will also be made available to the scientific community via barcoding databases.
Background: Reliable methods for identifying species and clarifying their phylogenetic relationships are of crucial importance for the investigation of the dynamics of biodiversity at different scales. The identification of vascular plants at the core sites is needed for several projects in group A and B (A02 Hölscher, B03 Finkeldey, B04 Hertel/Leuschner, B06 Kreft, B07 Polle, B10 Wiegand/Meyer/Lay). Furthermore, project investigations on below-ground biodiversity, in particular project B07 on mycorrhizal diversity, depends on the assignment of fine roots to particular plants. We expect that the combined analyses of morphological data and DNA barcodes will allow a reliable species identification for most samples.
Theoritical framework: Molecular methods became indispensable tools to support the identification of species and to clarify phylogenetic relationships during the past decades. The use of short informative DNA sequences for species identification "DNA barcoding" http://www.barcodeoflife.org/ (Chase and Fay, 2009) is of particular relevance for extremely species-rich ecosystems such as tropical forests. The most widely accepted sequences for barcoding of plants is a combination of the two plastid gene regions matK and rbcL http://www.barcoding.si.edu/plant_working_group.html (CBOL Plant Working Group, 2009). The investigation of these regions will contribute to the development of useful barcode information for the identification of plants in highly diverse but endangered tropical forests of Southeast Asia. Currently, DNA barcoding data are systematically collected for Malesian tree species on different Indonesian islands, but not on Sumatra, in a US NSF-funded project http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=1020868 and thus comparable sequence data of barcoding loci will become increasingly available in the very near future.