CATEGORY: VCE 1 & 2 Biology

DNA Barcoding

Course Access: Lifetime
Course Overview

The Ecolinc grassland/wetland is a constructed ecosystem containing many indigenous plants from the Western Volcanic Plains of Victoria. Identification of much of the flora present can be made using the ‘Grasslands: Biodiversity of South-Eastern Australia’ Flora and Fauna Field Guide. Identification can be investigated further using DNA barcoding. This involves determining and using a gene segment that contains a specific nucleotide sequence that uniquely identifies a particular species. This may be compared to the way a supermarket scanner uses the black vertical stripes on the packaging of a product to identify a purchase.

Students who are UNABLE to attend our onsite program can still complete or complement their Assessment task using this course. By watching a series of videos and completing accompanying activities, they will cover the same content covered at Ecolinc. They will identify a species of plant by investigating part of its DNA sequence.

PLEASE NOTE: Students who are attending the Ecolinc on-site version of this program should NOT attempt this online course as it repeats the content.


DNA barcoding is a molecular biology technique that uses a tiny piece of tissue from the specimen for DNA extraction. For plants, the barcode region targeted is a known gene sequence found in the chloroplasts called Rubisco Large subunit – rbcl. This barcode region is replicated using polymerase chain reaction PCR and then gel electrophoresis is used to check the success of extraction and amplification. Once the DNA barcode is obtained, it can be sequenced and then analysed using bioinformatics tools and stored in global databases for future use.

Applications of DNA barcoding include species identification, diagnosis of disease, determining evolutionary relationships, monitoring invasive species and food safety.

Year Level: Yr 11

Prior Knowledge

Knowledge of DNA structure would be beneficial.

Course Connections

Does this course link to other Ecolinc programs?

This course is a current replacement for attending the following on-site program:
How inheritance is explained: DNA Barcoding

Learning Intentions

In this program, student’s will:

  • distinguish between DNA, genes, alleles and genomes.
  • become familiar with the structure of DNA.
  • see PCR and gel electrophoresis in action.
  • use a bioinformatics database to identify a plant species from its copied DNA sequence

Estimated Duration: 120 minutes

VCE Area of Study

Biology Unit 2 AoS 2

    • The distinction between a genome, gene and allele
    • The genome as the sum total of an organism’s DNA measured in the number of base pairs contained in a haploid set of chromosomes
    • The role of genomic research since the Human Genome Project, with reference to the sequencing of the genes of many organisms.
    • A bioinformatics exercise

Course Design: David Tait