Assembling the Tree of Life: Magnitude, Shortcuts and Pitfalls
Assembling the tree of life is ‘big science’, and this chapter discusses the magnitude of the task. It also discusses in greater depth DNA taxonomy and DNA barcoding, two recent shortcuts, that have been proposed to achieve the goal of assembling the tree of life. Whilst DNA taxonomy is largely a futile exercise, DNA barcodes, short standardised portions of the genome, may become helpful tools in species identification, especially in species rich taxa. However, it is less likely that barcodes will significantly speed up the discovery of new species.