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Phenotypic vs genotypic approaches to biodiversity, from conflict to alliance
Boero, F.; Bernardi, G. (2014). Phenotypic vs genotypic approaches to biodiversity, from conflict to alliance. Marine Genomics 17: 63-64.
In: Marine Genomics. Elsevier: Amsterdam. ISSN 1874-7787; e-ISSN 1876-7478
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Morphological taxonomy; Genetic barcoding; Genomics

Authors  Top 
  • Boero, F., more
  • Bernardi, G.

    Taxonomy has traditionally been based on morphological characters. Such a “phenotypic taxonomy” has steadily been replaced by the advent of molecular approaches, culminating with the rapid sequencing of genetic barcodes. The convenience of barcoding and its relative ease has relegated “phenotypic taxonomy” to a historical status. The use of genetics is undeniably powerful. It has relatively few biases and DNA can be extracted from challenging groups, where forms are fragile, such as jellyfish, or where early life stages are difficult to connect with adult forms. The problem is that resources are finite, and the rise of one powerful method came with the demise of traditional taxonomy. In addition, genetic methods may be very sophisticated, requiring acute expertise to master its techniques. These two points in combination have resulted in less funding and attraction for traditional approaches. This is doubly unfortunate because, first we are quickly losing experts in organisms that have incredibly complex lifestyles, and second because in order to fully appreciate a molecular taxonomy, one needs to understand the organisms. In a time of rapid loss of biodiversity, time is ripe for traditional and molecular taxonomists to unite in order to better appreciate and understand the complexity of life forms.

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