Skip to main content

DNA barcodes for species identification of fish and shellfish in Europe: implementation and application in selected case-studies

Final Activity Report Summary - EUROFISHCODE (DNA barcodes for species identification of fish and shellfish in Europe: implementation and application in selected case-studies)

The Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL), founded April 2004, is an international initiative with the mission to explore and develop the potential of DNA-based technology (DNA barcoding) as a complementary practical tool for species identification. EUROFISHCODE was aimed at implementing DNA barcoding as an identification tool for fish and shellfish species from 'catch to fork', at the European level.

EUROFISHCODE had a key integrative role in the implementation of European-wide partnerships, involving currently more than 40 researchers from 16 countries among EU members and other European countries. The main achievement of EUROFISHCODE was the creation of the backbone of a European fisheries resources database, integrated with a global marine fish barcoding identification system (FISH-BOL). Additional resources for the scientific community created in the scope of EUROFISHCODE include novel specimen collections deposited in Museums, and tissue banks.

This innovative tool is particularly powerful for species identification of eggs and larvae, and for control of fish and shellfish (decapods) species used in food products. Foreseen applications will extend to fisheries management, environmental conservation and forensics. Therefore, EUROFISHCODE impacts will extend beyond its duration, creating a functional framework operational within the global DNA barcoding effort to expand the applications of DNA-based approaches to traceability of all aquatic organisms in Europe, including traceability of fish populations through the recently EU-funded FP7 project FISHPOPTRACE.

In addition to FISHPOPTRACE, various other research grants emerging from EUROFISHCODE will secure the continuing implementation of this valuable research tool in Europe. Important scientific returns start also to transpire from the application of DNA barcoding data to analyses of particular taxonomic groups and geographic regions. They included analyses of patterns of within and between-species divergence in mitochondrial genes on a global scale, for cosmopolitan fish species, and the detection of putative unknown species of fish and crustaceans.

Upon completion of EUROFISHCODE the Fellow emerged very competitive in the labour market and he is currently establishing an independent academic and research career in an EU country. The Fellow has secured funding for continuation of the research initiated with EUROFISHCODE at least during the next three years.