There are over 20,000 species of orchids worldwide, but many of them are threatened. This is because they are being harvested and sold for a variety of purposes. In order to protect them from extinction, international trade of all orchids has been made illegal. But border control is lacking the means to efficiently recognize and confiscate plant material. By using genomic barcoding, I am working on a cost-effective method the assessment of species identity. This will enable better law enforcement, and ultimately the conservation of orchids alive today.
Orchids are not only one of the most charismatic plant families, but also the largest in species diversity. Prolific trade in wild-harvested orchids for horticulture and consumption threatens species globally. Vegetative orchid plants and tubers are difficult to identify and recent diversification complicates molecular identification in this family. A probe set targeting 500 nuclear markers will be designed from genome and transcriptome data to create a single probe set for target-enrichment high-throughput sequencing. This approach will be tested throughout the family with specific genera most at risk by trade today, including some of the following: Anacamptis, Campylocentrum, Cattleya, Dactylorhiza, Hadrolaelia, Hoffmannseggella, Ophrys, Orchis, and Paphiopedilum.
Objective: Develop species-level identification of orchids and derivatives independent of state using high-throughput sequencing.