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Launch the Earth BioGenome Project

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On November 13, 2018

On Nov 1 2018, an ambitious project called The Earth BioGenome project , which makes a global effort to sequence the genetic code of all planet’s eukaryotes, was officially launched in London, UK.


The goal of the Earth’s Biological Genome Project is to sequence the genomes of some 1.5 million known animal, plant, protozoan and fungal species (collectively known as eukaryotes) worldwide over the next 10 years. The initiative is estimated to cost $4.7 billion and has so far only funded a small portion of it. As part of this program, scientists from the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Hinxton announced that they plan to spend 50 million euros ($65 million) on the sequencing of the UK’s eukaryotic genome over the next eight years. The number of species is about 66,000.


According to Harris Lewin, the evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Davis, and the chairman of the Earth Biogens Planning Working Group, the financial commitments made so far for the project are total about $200 million. This is one-third of the estimated cost of the “first phase” of the three-year project. This phase is intended to sequence the genome of at least one species of each type of the 9000 known eukaryotes. He hopes to raise the remaining funds within one year.


The Earth BioGenome Project includes more than a dozen existing sequencing projects. For example, specific branches of the tree of life, such as birds, insects and plants; or research on the biodiversity of a particular country, such as the project that is officially known as the Darwin Tree of Life in the United Kingdom. At this conference in London, participants discussed guidelines for sample collection, sequencing, data management and sharing. Developing such a standard is crucial to make the genome useful to all scientists—not just to scientists in a particular field, and because the Earth’s Biological Genome Project is an umbrella organization, it’s also valuable to ensure that sequencing work covers all life science branches, not just those fields that attracted scientists’ attention.


This project will make breakthroughs in revealing the secrets of origins, evolution of the earth’s biological life and understanding ecosystems. Surely, it is of great significance in protecting biodiversity and benefiting human welfare.


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Last modified: December 4, 2018

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