DNA-based methods offer a significant opportunity to monitor individual species and species assemblages where appropriate, for example those that may be difficult to monitor using traditional methods. However, with the exception of some individual species such as the great crested newt, there is still much development of these techniques required before they can be used in routine monitoring. Natural England has been developing the use of DNA-based methods for monitoring for several years and is a founding member of the Defra DNA Centre of Excellence, which was set up to encourage collaboration across the Defra group to progress the use of DNA based methods by tackling cross-cutting barriers
Gaps in DNA reference libraries of UK species were identified by the Defra DNA Centre of Excellence Working Group as one of the main barriers preventing the further uptake of DNA based methods for environmental species monitoring. A Defra funded gap analysis highlighted that almost half the known UK species lack DNA barcode data. This report details the continuation of the UK Barcode of Life (UKBOL) project and progress in barcoding priority species. In particular an additional 1184 specimens of 1003 species were sequenced and added to BOLD, and the project website (including a live data portal, https://ukbol.org/data-portal), was developed to facilitate a continuous gap analysis of species coverage.
In addition, this report also includes a trial project directly funded by Natural England which generated barcode sequence data through genome skimming of 178 museum specimens of priority freshwater invertebrates.