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ZSI inks pact for digitisation of biodiversity records

ZSI inks pact for digitisation of biodiversity records
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Kolkata: Making a significant stride towards speeding up the documentation process of Indian biodiversity, the Zoological Survey of India has signed a MoU with iBOL (International Barcode of Life) for digitisation of biodiversity records.

The collaboration will foster pragmatic solutions in cataloguing and species discovery of different life forms. It will also aid in species conservation, interactions and dynamics and ultimately illuminating biodiversity for sustainability.

This will also ensure speedy documentation of the biodiversity records in a Mega Diversity country with 1,02161 animal species, out of which 28000 are endemic. There are certain species, which cannot be identified correctly through their morphological characters. In such cases, DNA sequencing is the only universal tool for identification.

For DNA barcoding, iBOL has the most advanced technology. It is equipped to carry out sequencing for the entire world. With 200 member countries, iBOL has the capacity to do identification of nearly 0.2 million species annually. India has become the latest member.

"In the regional centres of ZSI laboratory as well as its headquarters in Kolkata, we are able to carry out DNA barcoding of about 20 species a day. But, iBOL does it for more than 2000 species a day. Once we start using the advanced technology from iBOL our species recording, which is around 600 species per annum, will go up drastically and India's ranking in biodiversity will also go up. Barcoding of innumerable species can be done within a short period of time. It will provide the much needed boost to the CBD (Convention of Biological Diversity) programme," said Kailash Chandra, Director ZSI.

India is a signatory to CBD, under which each country has signed the treaty to have Digital Sequence Information (DNA Barcodes) of their

biodiversity.

ZSI is presently undertaking the survey of all 10 biographic zones spread across 28 states and 9 union territories, including 903 protected areas, 50 tiger reserves, 18 biosphere reserves and 41 Ramsar sites.

The study is laying special emphasis on endemic species, of which the country has its sovereign rights. Under the present circumstances, ZSI has to carry out DNA barcoding of 1 lakh odd fauna and 50,000 species of flora identified by Botanical Survey of India (BSI). So, the need for speeding up the process is inevitable.

According to Vikas Kumar, officer-in-charge of the Centre for DNA Taxonomy ZSI, such sequencing will be handy in creating a database for invasive species, commercial species, fresh water fishes, marine

fishes and will help in proper utilization of resources in case of any emergency or crisis situation.

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