In July 2014, we set up a permanent lab facility with basic molecular biology capabilities. Primarily set up for DNA barcoding, the lab can perform DNA extractions, PCR, Gel electrophoresis, and store samples at -20 C. Sequencing on DNA extracted in the lab is outsourced to Macrogen who return high quality sequence data within a few days. We are always looking to help out with new projects and provide new opportunities for the students we work with.
Carrie Bow Bio Code
In summer, 2014, we participated in the preliminary Carrie Bow Biocode project. At the Carrie Bow research station just off the coast of Dangriga, Belize, we utilized BioCubes to catalogue biodiversity in three types of aquatic ecosystems. The BioCube approach identifies all genetic diversity within one cubic foot of space at a given place and time. We sampled over 800 specimens and are busy generating genetic barcodes. The next step is to move beyond one cubic foot and investigate the entire ecosystem while involving local Belizean science students.
Cataloging Insect and Bat Diversity in Belize
We are teaming up with David Wyatt, from Sacramento City College, and several other biologists to perform DNA barcoding on samples collected from their successfully funded experiment.com project. The goals of the project are to establish a properly curated entomology collection in central Belize and conduct an inventory of bat species. A permanent collection will be housed at the Toucan Ridge Ecology and Education Society (TREES) field station and a duplicate collection will be taken to the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis for expert taxonomic identification.
PRI-BioBelize will compliment the taxonomic expertise by developing the DNA barcodes for all collected samples. This will be the first major and scientifically curated entomological collection housed in Belize, and we look forward to completing this exciting project.
David and colleagues spent June, 2014 collecting all the physical specimens and we will be performing sequencing of the COI gene this July. We will make all data publicly available and submit results to GenBank and BOLD. Until then, here are some exciting lab notes from David's trip. LAB NOTES
Wildlife Forensics at the Belize Zoo
We actively work with the Belize Zoo in order to perform routine tests that help them know more about their animals. This can run from sexing new birds that are brought into the zoo to using genetic barcodes to identify unknown species of fish in their pond.