Integration of DNA sequence data?

I recently posted an inquiry regarding educational integration of iNat data and DNA barcodes. As a more general follow up to that question, I was wondering iNat has the capability of incorporating sequences either as observations or as verification of observations. It would seem to be entirely feasible to incorporate NCBI or iBOLD accessions (for greater validity) as part of iNat’s effort. In fact, they are complementary modes of citizen science benefiting our understanding and conservation of biodiversity. A logical next step?

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My first question would be: Why “integrate” iBold or NCBI into iNat, given the rather different standard kind of data on each platform?

Why not instead just query both if your use case could benefit from both?


I’ve seen users add barcoding info as tags, observation fields, or links in descriptions. I don’t think that IDs should ever be entirely molecularly based, so I don’t know how I’d feel about that being the only basis for observations. We don’t need to duplicate information on other platforms.


It is easy to cross-reference iNat observations to entries in other repositories. There are many existing observations fields that can be added to observations to support that process. In fact, there are far too many fields, with lots redundancy, over specificity etc, etc.
Here is an example of an observation with links to the deposited collection, the GenBank entry and the barcode sequence itself…
Keithomyces carneus from Huntsbury, Christchurch 8022, New Zealand on November 11, 2021 at 12:17 PM by Jerry Cooper. isolated from rotten wood. Colony slightly pink. Reverse green. Conidia spiny. ID from ITS · iNaturalist NZ
I add a subset of collection records to iNat to provide exemplars, and the cross-references document the evidence. I also often add the barcode sequence to iNat in advance of GenBank deposits - simply because it is easy to do and provides some level of access for others.


I agree with other posts that there are already ways in use for doing this with observation fields (though too many fields to keep track of…)

I think adding sequence reference numbers to another database where the sequence is stored is fine. However, if the specimen is already in another collection and the information is accessible via GBIF, then duplicating that on iNat seems unnecessary and maybe undesirable. If it’s a DNA barcode for a specimen that otherwise isn’t/won’t be accessible via other collections/means, I think putting it on iNat is useful.

I think DNA could be a supporting piece of information for ID on iNat, but not the only piece of information allowing an ID. iNat IDs need to have either visual or audio evidence to be RG, so just uploading a sequence on iNat wouldn’t allow for RG. A casual record of a DNA sequence seems to me like it would just duplicate the sequence data stored elsewhere and not be useful.

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DNA barcodes are commonly added via observation fields such as “DNA Barcode COI” and “DNA Barcode ITS”. Some people also use the “BOLD ID” observation field to record the specimen ID from BOLD. These fields are intended to be used to suppliment photo observations though, not to act as observations in their own right.


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