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The BULCode project entitled „Fostering plant biodiversity research capacity in Bulgaria through scientific excellence in DNA barcoding and metabarcoding“ is financially supported by the new National program “European Scientific Networks” 2020-2023 governed by the Ministry of Education and Science of Bulgaria. The program follows the goals and impacts of the Twinning action under HORIZON 2020:

- Development and maintenance of scientific networks and partnerships between Bulgarian and leading European institutions

- Improvement the research capacity of Bulgarian institutions in a specific research filed for efficient enrollment in doctoral and postdoctoral programs, project management and successful participation in project initiatives at national and international level (e. g. Horizon Europe 2021-2027)

- Achievement of increased reputation and visibility of Bulgarian institutions at the world scientific map

The project will be realized by a consortium comprising three partners:

- Institute of Plant Physiology and Genetics (IPPG) – project coordinator (Partner 1)

- Institute of biodiversity and Ecosystem Research (IBER), Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria (Partner 2)

- University of Helsinki (FIN-UH), Department of Agricultural Sciences, Finland (Partner 3)

The ultimate objective of the BULCode project is to enhance the knowledge and technical capacity of the IPPG and its Bulgarian partner IBER in DNA barcoding technologies and their use for assessment and cataloguing of Bulgarian plant biodiversity, studying ecology dynamics and taxonomic identification of plant species. The Bulgarian team will profit from a transfer of knowledge from a European institution with demonstrated expertise in DNA barcoding and metabarcoding of plants – the University of Helsinki (Finland). The partner is research hub and coordinator of the Finnish Barcode of Life (FinBOL), and it will integrate components of their national DNA barcoding networks into to the area of research in Bulgaria. The transfer of scientific knowledge will be implemented through training schools, workshops, short-term visits and networking. As a major output, the realization of the project is expected to strengthen the research, innovation and networking capacity and visibility of the applying institute IPPG and its partner IBER as centers of competence for implementing and promoting advanced biodiversity research using DNA barcoding technologies in Bulgaria.

Biological resources as an object of studies

By a combined approach of learning and applying DNA barcoding methodology, we aim to promote DNA-based biodiversity studies in Bulgaria with emphasis on plants that:

- Are endemic and/or of ecological and medicinal importance for the country or Balkan Peninsula.

- Are characterized by a complexity of genera - variability of species and eco-types

- Are with unresolved or poorly understood taxonomy


Taxonomic and diversity studies on the complex genus Colletotrichum – a substantial threat to economically valuable crops (pepper, tomato, potato and others) and medicinal plants – are also a task of project activities.


The optimization of the DNA barcoding pipeline for different plant genera and phytopathogenic fungi and the generation of DNA barcode libraries of analyzed germplasm resources in publicly available databases such as BOLD is an important goal of the project.

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