Why build a genomic reference collection now?
Genomic technologies offer us the ability to explore our freshwater environments in new and powerful ways, including at a much finer resolution such as the populations within each species.
The UK invertebrate fauna is very well documented, i.e. the vast majority of species have already been formally described; thus, the biggest impediment to DNA based exploration of UK biodiversity is the identification of named species, rather than documenting undiscovered biodiversity.
To overcome this challenge and unlock the taxonomic, evolutionary, ecological and myriad of other data associated with our fauna we need to provide an accurate link between each species and their DNA, thus we need an open access reference collection of expertly identified specimens with associated DNA sequence data.
DNA barcoding, using part of the cytochrome oxidase I (COI) gene to identify organisms, has huge potential to accelerate the understanding of biodiversity on a global scale, however as DNA sequence based techniques incorporate additional non-COI barcoding regions, such as the 16S ribosomal RNA gene, there is a need to provide a reference collection that can quickly incorporate additional markers as methods change.