A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) inked to set up a reference library of DNA barcodes of animals, plants, and fungi to research and document biodiversity in Pakistan between Lahore Government College University (GCU) and University of Guelph Ontario of Canada.

GCU Vice Chancellor Professor Dr. Hassan Amir Shah and the University of Guelph Centre for Biodiversity Genomics (CBG) Director Dr. Paul Hebert through his representative Dr. Muhammad Ashfaq signed a MoU consisted of 26 points. The MoU was signed in a ceremony organized by the GCU Directorate of Academic Planning and External Links (AP&EL) at the university’s Syndicate Committee Room.

Canada CBG research scientist Dr. Muhammad Ashfaq said this project would play a crucial role in the conservation of indigenous species of Pakistan.

He further stated that Earth had faced five major mass extinctions, and 90% of species had been extinct. He added that 6th extinction as human intervention in nature that had posed a threat to the existence of animals, birds, and plants.

Dr. Ashfaq said that Europe had reference libraries for more than 8 million species but unfortunately no major initiative in this regard was taken by any Muslim country.

He also said that CBG is a global leader in of DNA barcoding and engaged 50,000 sq. ft. facility at the University of Guelph. He added this is Canada’s largest genomics platforms that included world-class ability in biodiversity science, DNA sequencing, and informatics.

The research scientist said that they would give training to GCU faculty and students in DNA barcoding which was a convenient, efficient, cheap, and exact emerging technology which had accelerated the pace of species discovery. “At present, researchers all over the world are utilizing this powerful tool for investigating biodiversity, differentiating cryptic species, testing food authenticity, identifying parasites, vectors, insects and predators, monitoring of illegal trade of animals and their products and identifying forensically important insects,” he added.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Hassan Shah laid stress on expanding research collaboration among foreign and national universities.

Both the universities agreed to exchange faculty, researchers and students besides starting joint research projects in biodiversity genomics, biodiversity science, DNA sequencing, and bioinformatics.

GCU AP&EL Director Fouzia Shaheen briefed the delegation about the scope of active research collaborations of GCU.

GCU Registrar Saboor Khan and Deans Professor Dr. Islam Ullah Khan, Professor Dr. Riaz Ahmed and Professor Dr. Tahir Kamran have attended the occasion.