Biodiversity Genomics Europe

Establishing a step-change in biodiversity genomics research in Europe

Project Summary.

Co-funded by the European Commission, Swiss Government, and UK Research and Innovation

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The Biodiversity Genomics Europe (BGE) consortium brings together the continent’s key practitioners in two fundamental DNA-based technologies - DNA barcoding and genome sequencing - to streamline the rollout of these methods. 

The consortium aims to accelerate the use of genomics to enhance our understanding of biodiversity, monitor changes in it, and guide interventions to address its decline. 

The Earlham Institute is a member of BGE and will be contributing to the standardisation of metadata collection and adoption of FAIR standards for large-scale genome sequencing.

Biodiversity Loss

An estimated one in four species on the planet are currently threatened with extinction, putting ecosystems, water and nutrient cycles, and even our own existence at risk of catastrophic collapse. 

Our understanding of how life on Earth functions and responds to environmental pressures is far from complete, leaving the research community, industry, and policymakers woefully unprepared to reverse the steady loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystems. 

Supercharging Genome Science

Addressing the global biodiversity crisis requires a solid understanding of the diversity of life on Earth, how that diversity functions and interacts, and how it responds to different environmental pressures. 

Behind that simple statement lies a major challenge - the enormous complexity of Earth’s biological systems. After centuries of research, just 2 million species have been scientifically described, while an estimated 80 per cent of the world’s multicellular species await scientific discovery and description. 

BGE brings together two networks: BIOSCAN Europe, which focuses on DNA barcoding, and the European Reference Genome Atlas (ERGA), which focuses on genome sequencing, to work on the mammoth task of describing Earth’s incredible diversity.

Impact statement.

This project will coordinate and upscale DNA Barcoding and Genome Sequencing of European biodiversity to better understand and protect it. 

Aligning the efforts, expertise, and resources of the DNA barcoding and sequencing communities will bring together members of traditionally distinct research networks to develop solutions to align largely disconnected protocols, data management strategies, and applications in biodiversity and conservation.

There are a number of continent-wide, international, and global sequencing initiatives, including the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) and the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP), which are seeing extensive and growing participation. There remains, however, a critical need to develop and strengthen communities of practice, within and between initiatives and at scale. 

In turn, these initiatives in large-scale biodiversity genomics need to be fully integrated into the wider landscape of biological and data infrastructures. 

In the long term, the aspiration for BGE is to enable a pan-European mechanism for scaled and high-resolution biodiversity data.

The massive scale deployment of genomic approaches to biodiversity will fundamentally and dramatically change conservation biology and basic biological research.