DNA barcoding a rain forest: Biotech meets biodiversity in S'pore

Project Number
RI 7/06 SL

Project Duration
November 2006 - October 2015

Status
In-Progress (Extended)

Abstract
Singapore lies at the heart of the Indo-Malayan region, of one of the world's richest hotspots of species diversity. Much of this natural heritage is under threat with the disappearance of the once-vast Asian tropical rainforests, and there is a critical need to document, study, and highlight this staggering diversity in order to better manage and conserve this legacy. Singapore is in a position to make significant contributions in these areas given its high biodiversity, its location central to the region's rainforests, and perhaps most importantly, because of its ability to turn technological innovations into practical and important applications. We have the opportunity to begin the large scale generation and compilation of genetic databases of rainforest trees for practical and conceptual uses, to enable a better understanding of Asian tropical rainforests, and by extension, tropical forests everywhere. The proposes project, an outgrowth of the investigators' previous work, will be the world's first large scale test case for the feasibility of the DNA barcoding of a diverse plant community, and in addition may allow us to address longstanding ecological and evolutionary questions as to the factors behind the amazing diversity of tropical forest trees.

Funding Source
NIE

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