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      Earth BioGenome Project: Sequencing life for the future of life

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          Abstract

          Increasing our understanding of Earth's biodiversity and responsibly stewarding its resources are among the most crucial scientific and social challenges of the new millennium. These challenges require fundamental new knowledge of the organization, evolution, functions, and interactions among millions of the planet's organisms. Herein, we present a perspective on the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP), a moonshot for biology that aims to sequence, catalog, and characterize the genomes of all of Earth's eukaryotic biodiversity over a period of 10 years. The outcomes of the EBP will inform a broad range of major issues facing humanity, such as the impact of climate change on biodiversity, the conservation of endangered species and ecosystems, and the preservation and enhancement of ecosystem services. We describe hurdles that the project faces, including data-sharing policies that ensure a permanent, freely available resource for future scientific discovery while respecting access and benefit sharing guidelines of the Nagoya Protocol. We also describe scientific and organizational challenges in executing such an ambitious project, and the structure proposed to achieve the project's goals. The far-reaching potential benefits of creating an open digital repository of genomic information for life on Earth can be realized only by a coordinated international effort.

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          Most cited references 38

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          Insights into the phylogeny and coding potential of microbial dark matter.

          Genome sequencing enhances our understanding of the biological world by providing blueprints for the evolutionary and functional diversity that shapes the biosphere. However, microbial genomes that are currently available are of limited phylogenetic breadth, owing to our historical inability to cultivate most microorganisms in the laboratory. We apply single-cell genomics to target and sequence 201 uncultivated archaeal and bacterial cells from nine diverse habitats belonging to 29 major mostly uncharted branches of the tree of life, so-called 'microbial dark matter'. With this additional genomic information, we are able to resolve many intra- and inter-phylum-level relationships and to propose two new superphyla. We uncover unexpected metabolic features that extend our understanding of biology and challenge established boundaries between the three domains of life. These include a novel amino acid use for the opal stop codon, an archaeal-type purine synthesis in Bacteria and complete sigma factors in Archaea similar to those in Bacteria. The single-cell genomes also served to phylogenetically anchor up to 20% of metagenomic reads in some habitats, facilitating organism-level interpretation of ecosystem function. This study greatly expands the genomic representation of the tree of life and provides a systematic step towards a better understanding of biological evolution on our planet.
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            Tree of Life Reveals Clock-Like Speciation and Diversification

            Genomic data are rapidly resolving the tree of living species calibrated to time, the timetree of life, which will provide a framework for research in diverse fields of science. Previous analyses of taxonomically restricted timetrees have found a decline in the rate of diversification in many groups of organisms, often attributed to ecological interactions among species. Here, we have synthesized a global timetree of life from 2,274 studies representing 50,632 species and examined the pattern and rate of diversification as well as the timing of speciation. We found that species diversity has been mostly expanding overall and in many smaller groups of species, and that the rate of diversification in eukaryotes has been mostly constant. We also identified, and avoided, potential biases that may have influenced previous analyses of diversification including low levels of taxon sampling, small clade size, and the inclusion of stem branches in clade analyses. We found consistency in time-to-speciation among plants and animals, ∼2 My, as measured by intervals of crown and stem species times. Together, this clock-like change at different levels suggests that speciation and diversification are processes dominated by random events and that adaptive change is largely a separate process.
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              Biodiversity redistribution under climate change: Impacts on ecosystems and human well-being

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proc Natl Acad Sci USA
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                April 24 2018
                April 24 2018
                April 24 2018
                : 115
                : 17
                : 4325-4333
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.1720115115
                5924910
                29686065
                © 2018

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