Fostering plant biodiversity research capacity in Bulgaria through scientific excellence in DNA barcoding and metabarcoding“
Funding program: National program “European Scientific Networks” 2020-2023, Ministry of Education and Science of Bulgaria
Project duration: 2020 - 2023
Keywords: DNA barcoding, endemic species, Galanthus, Crocus, Colletotrichum, Bulgaria

The main objectives of the BULCode project are:

  • Increase of the scientific capacity of Bulgarian institutions in DNA barcoding and metabarcoding studies through transfer of knowledge from European partners experts in the field
  • Application of the methodology for studying Bulgarian biodiversity and its cataloguing in open access DNA barcode reference databases with a particular focus on plants.
  • Promotion of DNA barcoding research in Bulgaria through various dissemination channels: information meetings, training and education events, conferences
  • Development of collaboration networks at national and international levels aimed at enhancing the visibility and competitivity of Bulgaria among the worldwide biodiversity community.

Through an approach combining learning and applying DNA barcoding methodology we aimed at promoting DNA-based biodiversity studies in Bulgaria. The emphasis is on plants that:

  • Are endemic and/or of ecological and medicinal importance for the country or Balkan Peninsula.
  • Are with unresolved or poorly understood taxonomy and high species and eco-type genetic variability

Approximately 40 plant species were DNA barcoded in the framework of the project covering 10 genera.

An important achievement is the discovery of a new for Bulgaria species Sideritis elica Aneva, Zhelev & Bonchev. The species belongs to the Section Empedoclia of the genus Sideritis, which includes the widely known Mountain tea Sideritis scardica Griseb.

Български учени откриха и описаха нов за науката вид растение

A special task of project activities addressed the characterization of taxonomic diversity within the complex genus Colletotrichum – a phytopathogenic fungus that has been a substantial threat to economically valuable crops (pepper, tomato, potato and others) and medicinal plants.

Several training events and scientific forums were organized in Bulgaria the most important among them being the International Conference of DNA barcoding and Biodiversity 2022 ( and the GBIF Regional Training course: “Accelerating biodiversity research through DNA barcodes, collection, and observation data” in 2023.

  • 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)
  • Sofia University, Faculty of Biology, Department of Plant Physiology

Contact person: Assoc. Prof. Georgi Bonchev,

Project website:

List with publications

Mantovska D.I., Zhiponova M.K., Petrova D., Alipieva K., Bonchev G., Boycheva I., Evstatieva Y., Nikolova D., Tsacheva I., Simova S., et al. 2023. Exploring the Phytochemical Composition and Biological Potential of Balkan Endemic Species Stachys scardica Griseb. Plants, 13(1):30.

Aneva I., Zhelev P., Bonchev G., 2022. Sideritis elica, a New Species of Lamiaceae from Bulgaria, Revealed by Morphology and Molecular Phylogeny. Plants, 11: 2900,

Aneva I., Zhelev P., Bonchev G., Boycheva I., Simeonova S., Kancheva D. 2022. DNA Barcoding Study of Representative Thymus Species in Bulgaria. Plants, 11(3): 270, doi: 10.3390/plants11030270

Chaneva G., Tomov A., Paunov M., Hristova V., Ganeva V, Mihaylova N., Anev S, Krumov N., Yordanova Z., Tsenov, B., Vassileva V., Bonchev G., Zhiponova M., 2022. Jewel Orchid’s Biology and Physiological Response to Aquaponic Water as a Potential Fertilizer. Plants, 11: 3181,

Krumov N.P., Hristova VA, Bonchev G.N., Nedelcheva A.M., Tomov A.A., Zhiponova M.K., 2022. Review on Biological and Biotechnological Characteristics of the Terrestrial Orchid Ludisia discolor. Annual Of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” Faculty of Biology, Book 2 – Botany, 106 ISSN:(online): 2367-9190; (print): 0204-9910, 13-30, DOI: 10.60066/GSU.BIOFAC.Bot.106.13-30

Petrova D., Gašić U., Yocheva L., Hinkov A., Yordanova Z., Chaneva G., Mantovska D., Paunov M., Ivanova L., Rogova M., Shishkova K., Todorov D., Tosheva A., Kapchina-Toteva V., Vassileva V., Atanassov A., Mišić D., Bonchev G., Zhiponova M. 2022. Catmint (Nepeta nuda L.) Phylogenetics and Metabolic Responses in Variable Growth Conditions. Frontiers in Plant Science, 13: 866777,

Manova V., Stoyanova Z., Rodeva R., Boycheva I., Korpelainen H., Vesterinen E., Wirta H., Bonchev G., 2022. Morphological, Pathological, and Genetic Diversity of Colletotrichum Species Pathogenic on Solanaceous Vegetable Crops in Bulgaria. Journal of Fungi, 8(11):1123,