The first national theoretical-practical DNA barcoding workshop was carried out at CIAT with the objective of training researchers in the processing and analysis of biological samples in the Center’s molecular genetics and tissue culture laboratory. A total of 30 participants were in attendance, from 19 to 22 September, establishing research networks for preparing joint work projects.

The workshop was carried out in alliance with the Humboldt Institute and the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) and emphasized the application of the DNA barcoding tool to plants and insects. This initiative had financing from the Colciencias Colombia-BIO program and was directed to undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as professionals in biological sciences.


This workshop was conducted to introduce the researchers to the barcoding technique, which makes it possible to identify and characterize specimens of different biological groups. This tool is useful on various fronts of research and for different organizations, such as the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA), because it makes it possible, in the case of insects, to be able to identify biological specimens regardless of their state of development.

Gerardo Gallego

Head of the molecular genetics and tissue culture laboratory, CIAT

Walter Turizo, of the national plant quarantine group of the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA), stated that “the implementation of this tool is of utmost importance in terms of certification and verification of materials that are imported to and exported from the country, because it makes it possible to detect pests. The ICA will apply the technique in various areas because, as an organization, it is in our best interests to be up to date, current, and to keep an open mind with regard to the evolution of national and regional agriculture.”

During the workshop, it was explained what barcodes are, what purpose they serve, their applications, the identification of specimens, the case studies, and the bioinformatics to analyze the genetic barcodes and their implementation for use and conservation of biodiversity.

Pablo Lavinia, researcher from the Museum of Natural Sciences in Argentina, expressed that “a synergy must be created among the Colombian researchers so that they together may overcome the great barrier that the laws impose on them for doing research today. It is important to use this technique to protect the fauna and the flora before it disappears due to the actions of people, who are the ones who impose the laws and obstruct research.”

Mailyn González, manager of the laboratory for conservation genetics of the Humboldt Institute, explained: “we want to provide the country with workshops like this one to train the researchers and so that they may be our replicators for obtaining more resources for genetics in the country.”

Similarly, Amaya Grial, research engineer in the laboratory of evolution and biological diversity of CNRS-France (The French National Center for Scientific Research), said that “for the researchers, this workshop was important because it provided tools to strengthen the skills and improve the work of biodiversity in Colombia.”

The molecular genetics and tissue culture team of CIAT’s Agrobiodiversity Area will keep working hand in hand with national organizations, especially the Humboldt Institute, to “support the biodiversity pool at a global level, and of course the projects of Colombia-BIO Program by Colciencias,” said Joe Tohme, director of CIAT’s Agrobiodiversity Area.


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