Mehrdad Hajibabaei, Ph.D.



Biomonitoring 2.0 – Project Leader

Assistant Professor – Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph

Mehrdad Hajibabaei is an expert in molecular evolutionary biology and bioinformatics. His research has focused on the use of genomics information in biodiversity analysis, ranging from the elucidation of deep branches of the tree of life to the establishment and application of DNA barcodes (standardized species-level DNA markers). Hajibabaei has been one of the pioneers in the use of high-throughput genomics technologies, such as microarrays and Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) for the assessment of biodiversity in samples as varied as natural health products to bulk environmental samples. His research contributions have generated over 3200 citations (ISI). Additionally, he has played a leadership role in establishing large-scale research projects and networks, such as the Canadian Barcode of Life Network and the International Barcode of Life (iBOL). He currently leads Biomonitoring 2.0, a large-scale applied genomics project funded by Genome Canada, Environment Canada, and Parks Canada involving seven research groups. This project uses NGS technologies for comprehensive assessment of biodiversity in Canada’s largest national park, Wood Buffalo National Park, with direct linkage to environmental monitoring of the Alberta Oil Sands. Hajibabaei has independently raised over $6.7M in research funds from various agencies and the industrial sector. He has served on advisory and review panels for international organizations and funding agencies, and has collaborated with regulatory agencies and various industries.


B.Sc. – University of Tehran (1994)

Ph.D. – University of Ottawa (2003)

Selected Publications

Bertrand, C., Janzen, D. H., Hallwachs, W., Burns, J. M., * Gibson, J. F., Shokralla, S., & Hajibabaei, M. (in press, 2014). Mitochondrial and nuclear phylogenetic analysis with Sanger and next-generation sequencing shows that, in Área de Conservación Guanacaste, NW Costa Rica, the skipper butterfly Urbanus belli (Hesperiidae) comprises three morphologically cryptic species. BMC Evolutionary Biology.

Gibson, J. F., Shokralla, S., Porter, T. M., King, I., van Konynenburg, S., Janzen, D.H, Hallwachs, W., & Hajibabaei, M. (2014). Simultaneous assessment of the macrobiome and microbiome in a bulk sample of tropical arthropods through DNA metasystematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Hajibabaei M, Spall JL, Shokralla S, van Konynenburg S. 2012. Assessing biodiversity of a freshwater benthic macroinvertebrate community through nondestructive environmental barcoding of DNA from preservative ethanol. BMC Ecology 12: 28.

Hajibabaei M. 2012. The golden age of DNA metasystematics. Trends in Genetics 28(11): 535-537.

Wallace LJ, Boilard SMAL, Eagle SHC, Spall JL, Shokralla S, Hajibabaei M. 2012. DNA barcodes for everyday life: routine authentication of Natural Health Products. Food Research International 49(1): 446-452.

Shokralla S, Spall JL, Gibson JF, Hajibabaei M. 2012. Next-generation DNA sequencing technologies for environmental DNA research. Molecular Ecology 21: 1794-1805.

Baird DJ, Hajibabaei M. 2012. Biomonitoring 2.0: a new paradigm in ecosystem assessment made possible by next-generation DNA sequencing. Molecular Ecology 21: 2039-2044.

Janzen DH, Hallwachs W, Burns JM, Hajibabaei M, Bertrand C, Hebert PDN. 2011. Reading the complex skipper butterfly fauna of one tropical place. PLoS one 6(8): e19874.

Hajibabaei M, Shokralla S, Zhou X, Singer GAC, Baird DJ. 2011. Environmental barcoding: a next-generation sequencing approach for biomonitoring applications using river benthos. PLoS one 6(4): e17497.

Meusnier I, Singer GAC, Landry J-F, Hickey DA, Hebert PDN, Hajibabaei M. 2008. A universal DNA mini-barcode for biodiversity analysis. BMC Genomics 9: 214.

Hajibabaei M, Janzen DH, Burns JM, Hallwachs W, Hebert PDN. 2006. DNA barcodes distinguish species of tropical Lepidoptera. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 103(4): 968-971.

Contact information

Office: University of Guelph, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, Rm. 108

Lab: University of Guelph, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, Rms. 015-016

519-824-4120 x52487


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