Since 2003, DNA barcoding has become a widely used technique for species diagnosis and identification. To date, over 600 peer-reviewed scientific papers utilize DNA barcoding across a wide range of taxa and for a diverse array of biological questions.
With the growth of DNA barcoding into a worldwide initiative, the community has gathered for an international conference every two years, beginning in 2005. The early conferences focused on the reliability of barcode-based identifications and subsequently laid to rest the most pressing of such concerns. As a result, the 2009 Mexico City conference witnessed an explosion of new applications of DNA barcoding across a rapidly expanding range of fields.
The new PLoS ONE Collection, Proceedings of the Third International Barcode of Life Conference, Mexico City, includes a selection of articles by the speakers at the plenary sessions of the 2009 conference. The articles represent the broad range of work now going on in the barcoding community, including applications in taxonomy, ecology, biogeography, and even socioeconomic applications such as controlling forest pest species.
One of the highlights of the Mexico City conference was the formal announcement of agreement on the standard barcode regions for land plants. This new standard opened the door to novel projects on grasses, food webs of plant-eating insects, and on combating illegal logging.
The barcoding community is gearing up for the Fourth International Conference, which will be hosted by the University of Adelaide in South Australia from November 28th to December 3rd 2011. Online discussions have already opened and more than 400 abstracts have been submitted. DNA barcoding continues to expand and accelerate and the PLoS ONE Collection, Proceedings of the Third International Barcode of Life Conference, Mexico City will be an important reference in the evolution of this field.