DNA Barcoding 2 Day Workshop in Hong Kong

How did you spend your easter holiday? Our team had spent a wonderful weekend with 11 kids in our community biolab, learning DNA barcoding, its applications and some basic molecular biology skills. This was our very first workshop of our Hong Kong DNA Barcoding project. It was held on 15-16 April at our community biolab at MakerBay. There was totally 11 kids, from 8 to 15 years old joining and some parents also participate in the process.

We kickstart our day with a brief introduction of DNA Barcoding and why we do barcoding, then we went out to Lei Yue Mun to collect plants samples and document the collected samples on iNaturalist app. The kids made several new discoveries. One of the 8 year old boy, Joe told us “I didn’t think of plants also have DNA! I thought only human have DNA.” Another girl, Amber, also found that some plants look very similar but when she touched the leaves, she discovered that one plant species actually has hair on the leaf surface while another doesn’t.

paren and boy collect plant samples

We then returned to the lab with the specimen and isolate the DNA from the plant samples. The kids have great interested on using micropipette and centrifuge. Joe was so excited that he even drew out the the lab and the equipments and gave us as a gift.

IMG-20170416-WA0066 drawingIMG-20170416-WA0031 IMG-20170416-WA0068

In day 2, the kids learnt about how PCR works and prepared PCR reaction mix for their own samples. After 2 hours, they took out their PCR products, learn casting agarose gels and analyze the amplified DNA by gel electrophoresis. Below shows the gel photograph:

16Apr gel photo

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-18 at 12.04.43 PM IMG_20170416_125252 gel

Though some samples shows no band, we still got 60% successful rate. Yet this was a good learning experience for both us and the kids!

More detailed lab log can be found on our wiki: https://sites.google.com/site/diybiohongkong/hong-kong-barcode/15-16-april-2017-workshop 

First testing of the DNA Barcoding Project in the DIYBIO Hong Kong community lab!

What is Barcode Hong Kong Project?

The Hong Kong Barcode Project is a citizen science program in Hong Kong. Just like the unique pattern of bars on the products in supermarket, a DNA barcode is a DNA sequence that uniquely identifies each species of living thing. The Hong Kong Barcode Project aims to engage general public using DNA technology to explore biodiversity in Hong Kong.

Projects can use DNA barcodes to examine any aspect of the environment, such as:

  • Sampling biodiversity in a park, garden, office, or school;
  • Checking for invasive plant or animal species;
  • Monitoring disease vectors;
  • Identifying exotic or endangered food products in markets; and
  • Detecting food mislabeling.


Our Barcoding First Test

As a DIYBio community, we decided to run our first testing in a DIY way. We used DIY lab ware like 3D printed gel electrophoresis tank, Blue LED transilluminator and DIY DNA extraction method.

We collected two plants sample nearby our lab and recorded their geographical location in iNaturalist app. We did the DNA extraction using commercial kit as well as our homemade DNA extraction recipe.


Our results

Yeah! We got our DNA bands! It proves our DIY DNA extraction methods and PCR works. Though there are still some adjustments needed to be made.

first test result


Our next step

Improve and run again to make the process goes more smoothly. Then we will organise a Barcoding workshop in our meetup to invite general public to try doing wet lab like a DIY biologist! Ultimately, we would like to provide education to general public.


Find out more:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DIYBIOHongKong/

Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/DIYBIOHK/

Our First testing Lab Note: https://sites.google.com/site/diybiohongkong/hong-kong-barcode/first-testing