Taiwanese researchers are contributing to a global initiative to identify, document and preserve the world’s species and biodiversity by developing cryobanking, DNA barcoding and online database programs, officials from the Forestry Bureau and the Academia Sinica’s Biodiversity Research Center told a news conference in Taipei on Thursday.
There are nearly 60,000 species in Taiwan, 8,000 of which are endemic, center research fellow Shao Kwang-tsao (邵廣昭) said.
To minimize the negative effects of biodiversity loss, the agencies have launched a liquid nitrogen cryopreservation program for wildlife genetic material, nicknamed the “frozen ark project,” they said.
Photo: Yang Mien-chieh, Taipei Times
Apart from permanently preserving biodiversity, the project could monitor changes in biodiversity and provide applications for the fields of biochemistry and biotechnology, which are expected to become highly competitive, they said.
The project might even be used to bring back extinct species, the agencies added.
The program is sponsored by the bureau and executed by the center, according to the program’s Web site.
Apart from preserving genetic material, researchers are also establishing a DNA barcoding program known as the “Taiwan Barcode of Life” that would make it easier to identify species, they said.
Preserving the genetic material of the nation’s native species is the first step toward contributing to the global DNA barcoding effort, the program’s Web site says.
DNA barcoding could be used when smuggled animal products no longer retain their original appearance, center postdoctoral researcher Huang Shih-pin (黃世彬) said, adding that the animal’s species and subspecies could be determined by “scanning” the DNA barcode.
The bureau and center have already collected 13,063 frozen wildlife specimens across 3,926 species for its cryobanking program and have processed the DNA “barcode” sequences of 3,796 samples across 1,983 species, they said.
They have also stored 1,058 dried fungal specimens across 1,177 fungal species and 1,166 strains of live fungi, and have processed the DNA barcode sequences of 1,687 fungal samples, they added.
The bureau and Academia Sinica in 2011 launched the Taiwan Encyclopedia of Life (TaiEOL) online database, modeled after the international Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) initiative, to document Taiwan’s endemic species.
The TaiEOL in September 2012 signed a memorandum of understanding with the EOL and became an official global partner.
The TaiEOL’s online database includes data on 21,642 species in Taiwan — about a third of the nation’s known species, they said, adding that the database is available for free on the program’s Web site.
The TaiEOL is also expected to launch a mobile app to give the public easier access.
VOTERS’ CHOICE: The DPP’s Chen and independent candidate Huang conceded defeat before 7:20pm, with Chiang pledging to remain humble and do his best Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) yesterday won the Taipei mayoral election, with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate defeating the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) pick, former minister of health and welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), and former Taipei deputy mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊), an independent. After polling stations closed at 4pm, the Taipei Election Commission issued a preliminary estimate that voter turnout in the city was about 64 percent, slightly lower than in 2018. Chiang, 43, is to be the youngest Taipei mayor ever, with the KMT regaining the capital after eight years. Chen had an exceptionally high national approval rating when he was head
FAMILY BACKGROUND: Chiang was effective in running a cautious campaign to avoid making mistakes, waiting for other candidates to slip up, an analyst said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei Mayor-elect Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) stood out among his rivals due to his energy, his die-hard supporters and his relative openness to discuss issues such as same-sex marriage, a political analyst said yesterday. Chiang’s campaign was also aided by his family’s background in politics, which helped him garner greater support in Taipei where there is a large KMT base, said the analyst, who chose to remain anonymous. “Chiang is also not a typical KMT member when it comes to certain issues, such as gay marriage, and his more open stance widened his support base — particularly among young
First-time politician Mai Yamada’s (山田摩衣) Japanese name has attracted attention in Chinese-language media after her win in the New Taipei City Council election on Saturday. Born to a Taiwanese mother and Japanese father, the 32-year-old Taiwanese-Japanese stood out after becoming one of nine elected city councilors in Banciao District (板橋) in the nation’s local government elections on Saturday. Although she has a Japanese name, she grew up and was educated in Taiwan, Yamada said, adding that “Taiwan is my home.” Before running for local government, Yamada, who speaks fluent Japanese and English, was Legislative Speaker You Si-kun’s (游錫堃) secretary. She has been involved in
Mask easing: Teachers are allowed to take their masks off while lecturing indoors, but students should keep theirs on, as COVID-19 measures ease this week The Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday released new on-campus COVID-19 prevention guidelines, stating that masks can be taken off while exercising, singing, dancing, performing, taking photographs, dining, drinking, video and voice recording, hosting events, presenting speeches and lecturing outdoors. Large outdoor events organized by schools should comply with the mask regulations issued by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), it added. The new guidelines came into effect yesterday, and people in Taiwan are no longer required to wear masks outdoors for the first time since May 19 last year. The CECC announced the easing of the mask mandate on Monday, adding that it