In pursuit of a universal barcode of plants: peril of followers?
In May 2007, during the early days of the DNA bar coding project in India, we published an article, ‘DNA barcoding: an exercise in futility or utility’1 . As the title reflects, we were literally at crossroads, caught between the cross-fire of traditional taxonomists (we think it is disrespectful to call them traditional; they are as much modern as are archaeologists and molecular biologists) and molecular systematists and not knowing which way to go forward. After a reasonable amount of brain-storming that took us through well-trodden criticisms of the DNA barcoding initiative, we concluded that while debates can go on, the tool itself can be effectively used in complementing conventional taxonomic studies and in securing Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) for important taxa. We also felt at that time that it would be important for the country to develop skills and infrastructure to undertake barcoding of at least some of the important taxa, both for conservation and commerce.