NorBOL is the Norwegian national research infrastructure for DNA barcoding. The infrastructure is coordinated by the NTNU University Museum in Trondheim and has four consortium partners: The University Museum of Bergen, The Natural History Museum in Oslo, The Arctic University Museum of Norway in Tromsø, and the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics (CBG) at the University of Guelph (Canada). At the same time, NorBOL is a network of 17 Norwegian biodiversity institutions that work towards the goals of building a DNA barcode reference library for species in Norway and collaborate in the development of molecular tools for species identifications. NorBOL is a regional node in the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) with the coordinator representing Norway in the Scientific Steering Committee. NorBOL has been successful in meeting all goals set for the establishment period for the infrastructure. By the end of 2020 samples from around 141 000 specimens representing 26 700 Norwegian species had been taken and submitted for DNA barcoding. With an average success rate of 85%, about 22 600 species from Norway currently have DNA reference barcodes in the Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD). The partners of NorBOL have been active in communicating the infrastructure?s resources at conferences, scientific articles, chronicles, social media and in blogs. The contribution in education and knowledge transfer events (e.g. annual workshops) has been substantial. In 2019, the NTNU University Museum together with NorBOL and the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre hosted the 8th International Barcode of Life Conference in Trondheim.
Our world is facing a biodiversity crisis. Species are threatened with mass extinction, while probably more than 80% of all species on Earth are unknown to science. Hence, there is an urgent need to find new ways to accelerate the processes of describing, identifying and protecting species. DNA barcoding is a powerful new tool that promises to speed up the identification of known species and the discovery of new ones. The method is based on a simple premise, that each species can be identified by a short standardized gene region, a DNA barcode. A DNA barcode library of species will have enormous scientific and practical applications for all human activities that require species identifications (e.g. food safety, pathogens) and be central for sustainable d evelopment in our society. The major challenge at this stage is to build the barcode library. The International Barcode of Life (iBOL) project was launched in September 2010, with the goal of assembling 5 million barcodes representing 500 000 species by t he end of 2015. NTNU University Museum is leading the Norwegian barcoding initiative (NorBOL), a network of 16 biodiversity institutions in Norway aiming to build a distributed national infrastructure for DNA barcoding with the goal to barcode 100 000 spe cimens of 20 000 species from Norway and the Arctic region within five years. All species will be represented by voucher specimens in natural history museum collections and identified by taxonomic experts. Data will be made freely available in the interna tional DNA barcode database (BOLD) and linked to other web-resources for species information (GBIF, Encyclopedia of Life, GenBank, etc). Through the involvement in this large-scale international research enterprise, Norway will contribute significantly to the global effort of characterizing the world's biodiversity and provide new innovative tools for its discovery, management and conservation.