One of the important tools brought to science by the dizzying progress of DNA sequencing technologies is DNA Barcoding. The determination of flora and fauna, environmental genome studies, associating biological samples with the crime scene in the field of forensic medicine, the method used in studies on food safety and ecology also provide scientists with important information about examining the evolutionary flow and relationships.
Dr. Instructor Member Bahar Sogutmaz Ozdemir and her team are carrying out the “National DNA Barcoding Project” in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, which will enable every plant species in Turkey to be identified. Dr. Instructor Member Bahar Sogutmaz Ozdemir states that there are 12 thousand species of taxa in Turkey and says that until today, nearly 2,000 plants, especially endemic plants, have been given identity.
GENETIC DIVERSITY IS IMPORTANT
Drawing attention to the importance of diversity and protection of genetic resources, Dr. Bahar Soguduz Ozdemir, giving the example of tomato, said, “Maybe there was a gene that gave that smell and taste to the tomatoes we used to eat. When you lose that variety, you lose that gene. The richer your gene pool, the higher your chance of producing new varieties. If you lose the gene pool, you cannot recreate it. Our inability to find those old tastes is due to environmental factors as well as the loss of genetic diversity.”
CONSERVATION OF GENETIC RESOURCES IS ON THE AGENDA OF THE WORLD
“First you have to know what you have. After that, you can protect your genetic resources,” said Dr. Bahar Cooling Özdemir continued her words as follows:
Stating that they started the DNA Barcoding project from endemic plants, Dr. Bahar Sogutmaz Ozdemir said, “We can say that plant species belong to Turkey by molecular identification. Today, plant diversity, genetic diversity, protection of genetic resources and creation of new varieties are on the agenda of the world. We have to know what we have and protect our resources,” he said.
INTENDED TO PREVENT PLANT Smuggling
Dr. Bahar Sogutmaz Ozdemir explained the aims of DNA Barcoding studies as follows:
“Our genetic resources need to be taken under inventory in order to have rights on our genetic resources, to prevent plant trafficking, and to support R&D studies with genetic resources. After the gene pool of Turkey is revealed by molecular methods such as DNA Barcoding, these resources will be utilized in the development of new products to be used in important sectors such as agriculture, food and pharmaceutical industry.