Genome research to save biodiversity

world first IPBES Status Report Over biodiversity in 2019 was an uproar. The 1,500-page report showed the global community for the first time how biodiversity has changed dramatically over the past few decades and what causes it. However, the IPBES report only covers species that have already been scientifically described. 80% are still undiscovered despite extensive research. In addition: even with known species, it is often difficult to differentiate and knowledge about them is incomplete. That should change with the start of the European Union Project “Genomics of Biodiversity in Europe” (BGE) is now changing as soon as possible.

DNA coding and genome sequencing as keys

A total of 33 of the most important organizations in the field of biodiversity research and genomics in Europe are represented in the BGE Consortium, including five institutions from Germany such as the Leibniz Institute for Analysis of Biodiversity Change (LIB). With the help of two major areas of genomics, research into global biodiversity will have to be accelerated many times over, and environmental science and policy will be fundamentally changed on an equal footing.

The new project based on DNA data is based on DNA bar coding and genome sequencing. Genetic bar coding is the technology of the future for capturing global biodiversity. A barcode can be used to distinguish between different types. In turn, genome sequencing makes it possible to identify and identify genes and other features of the genome, thereby creating a comparative “map” of the code that makes up each organism.

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A quantum leap in European genome research

The project brings together experts from the BIOSCAN European Strand-DNA Coding Project* and the ERGA* Genome Sequencing Initiative. They are part of the International Barcode of Life and the Earth BioGenome Project. In the coming years, researchers will intensively devote themselves to assessing biodiversity, the interaction of species, and environmental changes. The consortium aims to make a ‘quantum leap’ in the use of genomics in Europe, thus creating the potential to generate important information about ecosystems much faster in a shorter time.

Says Astrid Bohn, Head of Comparative Genomics (vertebrates) and Project Director of the ERGA Initiative at the König-Bonn Museum of the Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change (LIB). “One of our central tasks at LIB is to contribute to our research to understand biological systems, species interaction, and environmental changes.”

Millions for biodiversity research

The European Biogenomics Biodiversity Project in Europe will be co-financed by the European Union through the Horizon Europe Program and the Governments of the United Kingdom and Switzerland in the amount of €21 million until 2026.

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