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Assessing candidate DNA barcodes for Chinese and internationally traded timber species

Cite this dataset

Hu, Jian-Lin et al. (2021). Assessing candidate DNA barcodes for Chinese and internationally traded timber species [Dataset]. Dryad.


Accurate identification of species from timber is an essential step to help control illegal logging and forest loss. However, current approaches to timber identification based on morphological and anatomical characteristics have limited species resolution. DNA barcoding is a proven tool for plant species identification, but there is a need to build reliable reference data across broad taxonomic and spatial scales. Here, we construct a species barcoding library consisting of 1,550 taxonomically diverse timber species from 656 genera and 124 families, representing a comprehensive genetic reference data set for Chinese timber species and international commercial traded timber species, using four barcodes (rbcL, matK, trnH–psbA, and ITS2). The ITS2 fragment was found to be the most efficient locus for Chinese timber species identification among the four barcodes tested, both at the species and genus level, despite its low recovery rate. Nevertheless, the barcode combination matK+trnH–psbA+ITS2 was required as a complementary barcode to distinguish closely related species in complex datasets involving internationally traded timber species. Comparative analyses of family-level discrimination and species/genus ratios indicated that the inclusion of closely related species is an important factor affecting the resolution ability of barcodes for timber species verification. Our study indicates that although nuclear ITS2 is the most efficient single barcode for timber species authentication in China, complementary combinations like matK+trnH–psbA+ITS2 are required to provide broader discrimination power. These newly-generated sequences enrich the existing publicly available databases, especially for tropical and subtropical evergreen timber trees and this current timber species barcode reference library can serve as an important genetic resource for forestry monitoring, illegal logging prosecution and biodiversity projects.


135 program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Award: 2017XTBG-T03

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31770569

Science and Technology Basic Resources Investigation Program of China: Survey and Germplasm Conservation of Plant Species with Extremely Small Populations in South‐west China, Award: 2017FY100100

Biodiversity Conservation Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Award: ZSSD‐013