The UK Barcode of Life (UKBOL) project comprises a network of UK government agencies, biodiversity institutions and individual scientists engaged in DNA barcoding of the biota of the United Kingdom. 

There are approximately 75,000 eukaryote species in the UK and we aim to assemble and curate a comprehensive library of standardized DNA sequences (DNA barcodes) as a reference resource for research and management of this biodiversity. 

DNA barcoding provides a powerful tool for species identification from any type of tissue, any life stage, even from bulk samples or trace DNA left in the environment (eDNA).

Reference DNA barcodes are linked to expertly identified voucher specimens in scientific collections with data deposited in a public, open-access database (BOLD). Our effort is an integrated part of the International Barcode of Life Project (iBOL) and the Darwin Tree of Life project (DToL). 

​To contribute to the project please contact us at: ukbol [at]



Price, Briscoe, Misra and Broad (2020) DEFRA Centre of Excellence for DNA Methods: Evaluation of DNA barcode libraries used in the UK and developing an action plan to fill priority gaps. Natural England Joint Publication JP035. (link)

Steering Group

Ben Price, Natural History Museum (coordinator) 
Katie Clark, Natural England 
Emma Keenan, Natural Resources Wales 
Iveta Matejusova, Marine Scotland 
Colin Bean, NatureScot 
David Bass, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) 
Paul Woodcock, Joint Nature Conservation Committee 
Raju Misra, Natural History Museum 
Peter Hollingsworth, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh 

Helen James, National Museum Northern Ireland 
Ester Gaya, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew 
Vlad Blagoderov, National Museums Scotland 
Laura Jones, National Botanic Garden of Wales 
Mara Lawniczak, Wellcome Sanger Institute 
Craig Macadam, Rethink Nature Partnership 
David Roy, Biological Records Centre, UKCEH 


  1. Develop data standards.
  2. Develop field and lab SOPs.
  3. Develop an open access data portal.
  4. Develop and maintain a priority species list.
  5. Collect, identify and sequence priority species.
  6. Secure additional funding to sequence all UK species.



The development of the UKBOL project has been supported by the Defra Centre of Excellence for DNA based methods. The Centre of Excellence aims to transform Defra group science by demonstrating the potential of existing methods, enabling the development of new methods, building capacity and providing a focal point for leadership in Defra, UK and across other government departments.