COI barcoding

According to Hebert et al. (2003) animal species can be distinguished by comparing a 648-bp fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene. The COI barcoding can be used for two purposes:

  • detection of new species
  • identification of known species

In both cases, query sequences are compared with COI sequences stored in reference libraries like GenBank and BOLD (Barcode of Life Data Systems). 


Čandek K, and Kuntner M (2014), DNA barcoding gap: reliable species identification over morphological and geographical scales, Mol. Ecol. 15, 268-277. (abstract)

Hebert PDN, Cywinska A, Ball SL, and deWaard JR (2003), Biological identifications through DNA barcodes, Proc. Roy. Soc. LondB 270, 313-321. (pdf) 

Kekkonen M, and Hebert PDN (2014), DNA barcode-based delineation of putative species: efficient start for taxonomic workflows, Mol. Ecol. Resour. 14, 706-715. (pdf)

Lijtmaer DA, Kerr KCR, Stoeckle MY, and Tubaro PL (2012), DNA barcoding birds: from field collection to data analysis, in: “DNA Barcodes’” (Kress W, and Erickson D, eds.), Methods in Molecular Biology, vol. 858. (link) 

Meiklejohn KA, Damaso N, and Robertson JM (2019), Assessment of BOLD and GenBank – their accuracy and reliability for the identification of biological materials, PLoS ONE 14, e:0217084. (pdf)

Paulay G, and Meyer CP (2005), DNA barcoding: error rates based on comprehensive sampling, PLOS Biol. 3, e:422. (pdf)

Ratnasingham S, and Hebert PDN (2007), BOLD: the barcode of life data system (, Mol. Ecol. Notes 7, 355-364. (pdf)

Savolainen V, Cowan RS, Vogler AP, Roderick GK, and Lane R (2005), Towards writing the encyclopaedia of life: an introduction to DNA barcoding, Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 360, 1805-11. (abstract)

Shen YY, Chen X, and Murphy RW (2013), Assessing DNA barcoding as a tool for species identification and data quality control, PLOS ONE 8, e:57125. (pdf)