(2006). Consequently, initiatives that aim to build reference MS-275 price libraries (e.g. Moorea Biocode Project) still face a similar cost per specimen sequenced. Even if the costs of sequencing fall substantially, other costs associated with building a reference library are relatively
incompressible, including labor costs, the collection of the specimens, their shipping to museum and molecular laboratories, and their identification by an expert taxonomist. The investment for building DNA barcode reference libraries will therefore remain quite significant, with the cost per reference barcode highly dependent on the taxon being studied (cost of identification/description, primer efficacy), the location of the study (cost of collection, cost of permits, etc.), the availability of software and informatics resources (cost
of data management), and the nature of the project (cost of small team versus larger efforts with economies of scale). Approximately $100–$200 per sample might be needed for biotic inventories seeking to create a reference barcode library for a biota containing thousands of species across all taxonomic groups, but even this could underestimate the full costs in some situations. While the costs of building a reference library for DNA barcoding might be relatively uncompressible (at least if one employs the current standard for Linnaean SB203580 manufacturer species names), the revolution in DNA sequencing technologies has slashed the cost of screening samples against a reference library once it has been built. Thus, there is a high initial investment in characterizing a biota of interest, but once done and the elements for a ‘genomic observatory’ are in place, biodiversity dynamics can be monitored for just a few cents much per identification. All the advantages of DNA barcoding then apply and DNA based identification can be carried out rapidly and reliably, irrespective of the
taxonomic group or available taxonomic expertise, by sending samples to any laboratory capable of carrying out genetic sequencing (which is increasingly a commodity product). Molecular approaches can be used to identify species at all life cycle stages, including highly digested tissue (Carreon-Martinez et al., 2011). Identifying the species involved in food webs is one of the main limitations in trophic-chain analyzes, and mapping ecological food webs by analyzing the stomach contents of commercially important fish species is likely to be critical in the future management of fish stocks. In a case study on coral reefs, DNA barcoding of gut contents using the ecosystem-level Moorea Biocode reference barcode library enabled the identification of a large proportion of semi-digested fish, crustaceans and molluscs found in the guts of three hawkfish and two squirrelfish species (Leray et al., 2012). Another opportunity for DNA barcoding involves taxa where species identification by morphological means is only possible for one sex (e.g.