DNA Megabarcoding and AI for Discovering Dark Taxa

Name of applicant

Aslak Kappel Hansen


Postdoctoral Fellow


Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin


DKK 1,403,735



Type of grant

Reintegration Fellowships


Despite more than 250 years of classification since Carl Linnaeus, we have described just 15% of estimated species. Many of these are insects small, hard to recognise, and perceived ‘ugly’, making them challenging to study. They are referred to as ‘dark taxa’ and due to their high diversity and abundance and may actually be much more important than the butterflies and bees we tend to focus on.


If we can bring these 'dark taxa' into the known we can add valuable information to the global biodiversity data. This will unlock more reference points for developing management plans, biological legislation and ecological research to help protect the natural diversity and ecosystems of our planet ultimately giving us a sustainable place to live.


By setting up a DNA megabarcoding pipeline at the Natural History Museum of Denmark it will be possible to generate DNA barcodes at unprecedented scale, faster and cheaper than ever before. When coupled with mass imaging of historical museum collections and AI, we can transform the way we discover and describe new species.

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