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Professor Alan Cooper presents the sixth instalment of the Science Seminar Series. The accurate and rapid assessment of biodiversity is a critical aspect for modern science, and ranges from the measurement of environmental and climate change, to microbes in water systems or at the point of care in medical centres. Similarly, the need for the rapid and responsible economic development of primary resources, and the monitoring of invasive species and biosecurity, also place a premium on the ability to quickly assess and quantify biodiversity across a range of diverse habitats. We have combined methods developed to detect trace amounts of ancient DNA with 2nd Generation Sequencing technology to design a vertical barcoding system capable of rapidly screening the genetic and taxonomic diversity of modern, complex biological samples. In parallel with studies of taxonomically identified museum and herbaria material, this approach promises to provide the first genetic audits of diverse Australian environments.