In New York state, during its inaugural year, the Earth BioGenome Project has established a foundation that will carry it toward completion of Phase I of the project – the sequencing of a representative species of each of the approximately 9,300 known eukaryotic taxonomic families of plants, animals, protozoa, fungi, and other microbes in the next three years.
Highlights of progress reported at a meeting of the EBP partner institutions and affiliated projects held August 27-30 at Rockefeller University in New York City include the initiation of the Darwin Tree of Life program at the Wellcome Sanger Institute (Hinxton, UK) with £8 million over the next two years to establish the program ($10 million USD) and the hiring of Professor Mark Blaxter as program lead; a $10 million grant from the State of California to support the California Conservation Genomics Project, which has as its primary mission the conservation of California’s threatened and endangered species; a commitment by Illumina Inc. to contribute complementary short-read data to aid in the creation of 100 annotated reference-quality genomes for basic and conservation science; public release of 101 reference genomes by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, the first demonstration that high-quality genomes can be produced at scale; increased institutional membership by nearly 50% to 25 since EBP launch in November 2018 and increased Affiliated Projects by a quarter to 19. Affiliated Projects are scientific communities, national, and regional projects that include experts performing taxon-based biodiversity genome sequencing.
The EBP is a confederated network of partner organizations and affiliated projects that have a common goal of sequencing and annotating the genomes of all 1.5 million known species of eukaryotes on the planet in 10 years. The EBP aims to create a digital backbone of sequences from the tree of life that will serve as critical infrastructure for biology, conservation, agriculture, medicine, and the growing global bioeconomy.