What is the Earth Biogenome Project?
- Powerful advances in genome sequencing technology, informatics, automation, and artificial intelligence, have propelled humankind to the threshold of a new beginning in understanding, utilizing, and conserving biodiversity. For the first time in history, it is possible to efficiently sequence the genomes of all known species, and to use genomics to help discover the remaining 80 to 90 percent of species that are currently hidden from science.
- The Earth BioGenome Project (EBP), as envisaged in the paper titled “Earth BioGenome Project: Sequencing life for the future of life”, proposes a detailed genome-sequence draft of every eukaryote species (organisms with a defined nucleus and to which belong all plants and animals).
- There are about eight million eukaryotic species and the authors argue that being able to create their detailed genetic sequences will reveal unexpected, evolutionary connections among the genus, orders and families that make up the so-called Tree of Life.
- So far, less than 0.2% of eukaryote genomes have been sequenced and these are at the level of “draft genomes”, meaning that they are still at the crudest resolution.
- The EBP has a 10-year road map and hopes to sequence about 1.5 million eukaryote species in three phases. This exercise needs global collaboration and can have many benefits.
- For instance, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN has not only helped Indian physicists but also given a boost to Indian industries, in that they have designed specialised equipment for the machine. The EBP will have similar spin-off benefits, the authors say.
- Sequencing such a large number of organisms will require innovative computation- and-storage solutions and the programming acumen of many thousands across the world. “The greatest legacy of the EBP will be the gift of knowledge — a complete Digital Library of Life that contains the collective biological intelligence of 3.5 billion years of evolutionary history,” the authors conclude.
A GRAND CHALLENGE
- The Earth BioGenome Project (EBP), a moonshot for biology, aims to sequence, catalog and characterize the genomes of all of Earth’s eukaryotic biodiversity over a period of ten years.
A GRAND VISION
- Create a new foundation for biology to drive solutions for preserving biodiversity and sustaining human societies.
Source: TH & https://www.earthbiogenome.org