Cracking the DNA Code

On a small island near Washington, D.C., Smithsonian researchers have found a genetic code that could revolutionize botany

"Now it's off to the races," botanist Dave Erickson says of a project to barcode 250 species of plant life on Plummers Island. (Stephen Voss)
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"I'm a find 'em and grind 'em kind of guy," says Erickson, turning a common botanical slur into a boast. Kress, a vegetarian, rolls his eyes in feigned disgust.

"You're definitely not a specialist," Erickson teases, dropping a bright green caterpillar into a tiny specimen bag. "You're a generalist. I've seen you eat."


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