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Get BOLD specimen + sequence data.


  taxon = NULL,
  ids = NULL,
  bin = NULL,
  container = NULL,
  institutions = NULL,
  researchers = NULL,
  geo = NULL,
  marker = NULL,
  response = FALSE,
  format = "tsv",
  sepfasta = FALSE,
  cleanData = FALSE,



(character) One or more taxonomic name. Optional.


(character|integer|numeric) One or more IDs. Optional. IDs include Sample IDs, Process IDs, Museum IDs and Field IDs.


(character) One or more Barcode Index Number URI. Optional.


(character) One or more project codes or dataset codes. Optional.


(character) One or more institution's name. Optional. Institutions are the Specimen Storing Site.


(character) One or more researcher names. Optional. Include collectors and specimen identifiers.


(character) One or more geographic sites. Includes countries and province/states.


(character) Returns all records containing matching marker codes. See Details.


(logical) Default : FALSE. If TRUE, returns the object from the Curl call. Useful for debugging and getting more detailed info on the API call.


(character) One of xml or tsv (default). tsv format gives back a data.frame object. xml gives back parsed xml as a list.


(logical) If TRUE, the fasta data is separated into a list with names matching the processid's for each records. Works with both 'tsv' and 'xml' format. Note: This means multiple sequences can have the same name if a process id has multiple sequences. Default: FALSE


(logical) If TRUE, the cell values containing only duplicated values (ex : "COI-5P|COI-5P|COI-5P") will be reduce to one value ("COI-5P") and empty string will be change to NA. Default: FALSE


Further args passed on to crul::verb-GET, main purpose being curl debugging


Either a data.frame, parsed xml, a http response object, or a list of length two (data: a data.frame w/o nucleotide column, and fasta: a list of nucleotides with the processid as name)


If using the taxon parameter with another parameter, if the taxon isn't found in the public database, it will act as if no taxon was specified and try to return all the data for the other specified parameter. You can make sure that the taxon you're looking up has public records with bold_stats.

Large requests

Some requests can lead to errors. These often have to do with requesting data for a rank that is quite high in the tree, such as an Order, for example, Coleoptera. If your request is taking a long time, it's likely that something will go wrong on the BOLD server side, or we'll not be able to parse the result here in R because R can only process strings of a certain length. bold users have reported errors in which the resulting response from BOLD is so large that we could not parse it.

A good strategy for when you want data for a high rank is to do many separate requests for lower ranks within your target rank. You can do this manually, or use the function taxize::downstream to get all the names of a lower rank within a target rank. There's an example in the README (

If a request times out

This is likely because you're request was for a large number of sequences and the BOLD service timed out. You still should get some output, those sequences that were retrieved before the time out happened. As above, see the README ( for an example of dealing with large data problems with this function.


Notes from BOLD on the marker param: "All markers for a specimen matching the search string will be returned. ie. A record with COI-5P and ITS will return sequence data for both markers even if only COI-5P was specified."

You will likely end up with data with markers that you did not request - just be sure to filter those out as needed.



if (FALSE) {
bold_seqspec(taxon='Osmia', format='xml')
bold_seqspec(taxon='Osmia', response=TRUE)
res <- bold_seqspec(taxon='Osmia', sepfasta=TRUE)

# records that match a marker name
res <- bold_seqspec(taxon="Melanogrammus aeglefinus", marker="COI-5P")

# records that match a geographic locality
res <- bold_seqspec(taxon="Melanogrammus aeglefinus", geo="Canada")

## curl debugging
### You can do many things, including get verbose output on the curl call,
### and set a timeout
head(bold_seqspec(taxon='Osmia', verbose = TRUE))
head(bold_seqspec(taxon='Osmia', timeout_ms = 1))