Earth BioGenome Project Aims To Sequence Genomes Of 1.5 Million Species

A global consortium of scientists is proposing a hugely ambitious project to sequence the genomes of all known complex life on Earth.The researchers behind the project want to sequence the genomes of 1.5 million eukaryotes, which include animals, plants, fungi, and microscopic organisms called protists. There are 10 to 15 million of these complex species on Earth. They expect it to take 10 years and cost $4.7 billion. The plan is detailed in thr Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The central goal of the Earth BioGenome Project is to understand the evolution and organization of life on our planet by sequencing and functionally annotating the genomes of 1.5 million known species of eukaryotes, a massive group that includes plants, animals, fungi and other organisms whose cells have a nucleus that houses their chromosomal DNA. To date, the genomes of less than 0.2 percent of eukaryotic species have been sequenced. The greatest challenge facing the initiative is the effort to locate each species and collect samples for sequencing. However, the international research team would access the expansive existing collections curated through museums, zoos and conservatories. The Earth BioGenome Project also plans to capitalize on the "citizen scientist" movement to collect specimens, modeled after the University of California Conservation Genomic Consortium's CALeDNA program. The project will likely enable the development of new technologies, such as portable genetic sequencers and instrumented drones that can go out, identify samples in the field, and bring those samples back to the laboratory.


By: Swati Kaushal



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