DNA Barcode Scanner

Proposed in 2017, the DNA Barcode Scanner is a conservation-centric device currently being developed by a team of researchers from Conservation X Labs. The team is working on realizing their goal of creating a Tricorder DNA Detection Device which would be fully usable in the field to identify samples of timber, fish and wildlife to combat trafficking. Given the difficulty of identifying the origins of a product given their manipulation to become finished goods, analyses must often be conducted to properly identify its point source. The problem is that this analysis is only available in labs, not where the crimes actually take place. By arming rangers and law enforcement agents alike with the DNA Barcode Scanner, those on the frontlines of fighting the global trafficking problem can swiftly identify what kind of item they are dealing with. Additionally, the Barcode Scanner will be available to supply chain managers and corporate seafood buyers so as to aid in the quality inspection and accuracy detection phases of purchasing. The device analyzes samples by pulling data from 15 species’ catalogues from the Barcode of Life Database (BOLD). A major hurdle researchers will need to surpass in order for the DNA Barcode Scanner to be viable for widespread distribution and use is the implementation of high-precision, molecular-grade experimental control and sensitivity to a handheld device. Current development is focused on integrating camera and bluetooth analysis on a paired smartphone, as well as designing the sample detection assays. The DNA Barcode Scanner brings lab-on-a-chip to the frontlines of wildlife trafficking, saving valuable time, money and resources often lost in the pursuit of its perpetrators. 

Baisch, D. A., & Holmes, H. R. (2017). “Developing a DNA barcode scanner for conservation“.


Biodiversity, Data, Illegal Resource Extraction, Industry/Natural Commodities, Monitoring, Regulation