Large Phylogenomics Project

The Bird 10,000 Genomes (B10K) Project is an initiative to generate representative draft genome sequences from all extant bird species. The establishment of this project is built on the success of the previous ordinal level project, which provided the first proof of concept for carrying out large-scale sequencing of multiple representative species across a vertebrate class and a window into the types of discoveries that can be made with such genomes. The announcement of the B10K Project was published on 3rd June 2015 in Nature.

The B10K project will allow the completion of a genomic level tree of life of the entire living avian class, decode the link between genetic variation and phenotypic variation, uncover the correlation of genetic evolutionary and biogeographical and biodiversity patterns across a wide-range of species, evaluate the impact of various ecological factors and human influence on species evolution, and unveil the demographic history of an entire class of organisms. Given all these aims, we are carrying out the project in three phases. Each phase focuses on the completion of milestones at hierarchical levels of avian classification (Fig. 1). We envision this project will have significant scientific and public impact that will change our understanding of avian biology and evolution, which in turn will affect our understanding of other organisms and open doors to new areas of research.
Figure 1. The B10K plan in four phases. Project phases are based on the hierarchical levels of avian classification. The ordinal level phase of c. 34 orders has been completed, and we are now generating genomic data for representatives of c. 240 families (plus several additional subfamilies). Sample collection is ongoing for Phase 3 (2250+ genera) and Phase 4 (the remaining 8000 species).

This Global Ant Genome Project will provide a comprehensive dataset of the genomic diversity of the world’s ant genera. Based on the comparative analysis of these data, we will be able to understand global trends of ant evolution and narrow down the genetic features that have been particularly relevant for the diversification and astonishing evolutionary success of ants. Based on recent experience with global-scale bird genome sequencing (Zhang et al. 2014) we expect that obtaining and analyzing ~200 genomes of ant species from across the world will allow major advances in ant (and, indeed, non-ant) biology and will provide the scientific community with a trove of data that will be mined in the service of diverse questions for decades to come.

To understand how complex animal life evolved through changes in DNA and use this knowledge to become better stewards of the planet. Genome 10K is a project to sequence the genome of at least one individual from each vertebrate genus, approximately 10,000 genomes. It is a key milestone on the way toward the Vertebrate Genomes Project, the project to find and sequence at least one individual from each of the approximately 66,000 vertebrate species.

As the world’s biodiversity continues to shrink rapidly due to climate change, habitat destruction, and species exploitation, humanity is faced with the question of how this loss will affect the complex ecosystems that sustain life on the planet. For example, the Living Planet Index shows a 52% decline in the vertebrate population size during the past 40 years. And according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, 20,000 species are near extinction with the rate of extinction 1000-fold greater than background because of human activity. Ecosystem collapse on a global scale is a very real possibility.

Today, due to powerful advances in genome sequencing and data science, we are at the threshold of a new beginning in understanding biodiversity and how it impacts the health of our planet. For the first time in human history, it is possible to sequence the genome of every known species on our planet, and to discover the remaining 80% that remain hidden from science. We propose that the time is right to bring the full power of biology and data science together to fully characterize the genetic blueprint of every extant species that has been identified on earth – and as many species as possible that have yet to be discovered. We term this endeavor the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP).

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