BGE has the aim of accelerating and upscaling the use of genomic science in Europe. By bringing together two newly formed networks, BIOSCAN Europe (which focuses on DNA barcoding) and the European Reference Genome Atlas, ERGA (which focuses on genome sequencing). BGE aims to create a strong and interconnected European biodiversity genomics network with the capacity to accelerate and upscale the production of genomic data and the application of genomic tools to tackle biodiversity decline.
Why is the project is necessary?
Numbers don't lie: 25% of species worldwide are threatened with extinction. If we want to address this global crisis, we will need a better understanding of the diversity of life on Earth, how that biodiversity functions and how it responds to different environmental pressures. BGE will foster genomics through the European nodes of two global projects representing the Barcode and Genomic communities.
What kind of innovations will the project bring to the field?
BGE is a pioneering project that will unite the strength of 2 key fields of genomic science:
- DNA barcoding (sequencing short genomic regions to rapidly identify species).
- Genome sequencing (generating high-quality complete reference genomes for understanding species at the genomic level).
The former can provide the basis for a global biosurveillance system for biodiversity. The latter can deliver fundamental knowledge of how biological systems function and how species respond to environmental change. Apart from the purely scientific contributions, BGE's strength as a large consortium will give it the potential to create capacity where needed, level up the European landscape (by providing data and resources to countries where these have been less accessible up until now) and, ultimately, to set the European agenda for future investment in genomic science.
Naturalis is the lead organisation for the BGE consortium. It leads some of the project's work packages (WP1: "Management & Coordination" and WP9 "Barcoding Data & Data Infrastructure") and has a leading presence in WP6 and WP13 (see below). We are also the leading institution of BIOSCAN Europe, one of the two networks at the basis of BGE. BIOSCAN Europe will become the European branch of iBOL (International Barcode of Life): https://www.bioscaneurope.org/