My name is Kerly Rodríguez Gando and I am a resident of Galapagos and a student of Biochemistry at the Technical University of Ambato. I started at the Barcode Galapagos project as a volunteer for three months in 2021 while completing my final degree project. After that I was given the opportunity to work as a lab assistant. I started part-time and now I’m full-time. One of the main goals of the Galapagos Barcode project is turning residents like me into citizen scientists, the project focused on social-economic assistance for several families affected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a Galapagueña it is very satisfying to have participated in the first project that encouraged local people to get involved in citizen. As an example, I gainednew knowledge, both in the laboratory and in the field. In addition, I was able to acquire and reinforce new skills in handling various soil, animal, salt and fresh water samples from the three islands of Isabela, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz. I have enjoyed assisting in all the activities, from the sampling to the final process in the laboratory. These activities are important to obtain robust results that contribute to the identification of Galapagos species through their DNA.

Processing samples is a daily challenge for laboratory workers. Laboratory work is uncertain and exhausting because several molecular biology methods are performed simultaneously based on standardised protocols or bibliographic studies. The parameters must be modified for each individual and, therefore, require several tests to obtain a satisfactory final result.

The work begins with DNA extractions with specific commercial kits for tissues, blood, soil and plants. Second, gel electrophoresis is performed to determine the presence or absence of DNA. Third, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is performed to amplify (create copies) of the DNA fragment of interest by millions. Finally, sequencing is executed using MinIONs, a third-generation sequencing technology used mainly in developed countries. Sequencing with Nanopores is the plus offered by the project by using state-of-the-art technology in order to obtain the genetic barcoding of each species which is then used to catalogue the biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands.

Throughout my work, I have seen the Barcode Galapagos project support undergraduate, masters and PhD students from different countries with their research. I believe that in the future, the research generated from the Barcode Galapagos Project will create increased interest in this field of conservation science.


Kerly Rodríguez

Laboratory assistant. Galapagos resident on San Cristobal island and Biochemistry student at the Technical University of Ambato.