Sponges (Phylum Porifera) are among the most ancestral metazoans and are frequently difficult to identify, even by taxonomic experts, due to their lack of complex morphological characters. However, poriferans are highly diverse, ecologically important and of significant importance to pharmaceutical and biomaterials industries. Therefore, means of unambiguous identification are urgently needed. A DNA taxonomic system, and in particular sponge DNA barcodes, will provide a set of indispensable tools to aid taxonomists and ecologists in the rapid identification of sponge species, which will enhance the discovery of drug-producing species. Here, we will argue for the implementation of a DNA supported taxonomic system and introduce the Sponge Barcoding Project.
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