The ambitious effort to sequence the DNA of earth’s 1.5 million animals, plants and fungi

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In what will undoubtedly be the largest genomic sequencing effort of all time, an international consortium of researchers is organizing a massive effort to collect and sequence the DNA of Earth’s 1.5 million known eukaryotes, the domain of organisms that includes animals, plants, and fungi.

It is a historically ambitious undertaking, akin to the Human Genome Project, the 13-year effort that began in 1990 to identify and map all of the genes that make up human DNA. In sequencing more than a million of Earth’s species, researchers hope that the project, dubbed the Earth BioGenome Project, can help to save endangered species around the world.

As of last fall, the sequenced genomes of only 2,534 unique eukaryotic species appeared in the National Center for Biotechnology Information. There are 1.5 million known species of eukaryotes on Earth. That means that so far, we’ve sequence less than 0.2 percent of our planet’s known complex life.

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Researchers estimate that the Earth BioGenome Project will take 10 years and cost $4.7 billion to sequence all 1.5 million organisms.

Currently, scientists estimate that Earth is on track to lose more than half of all species by the end of the century. So let’s hope that hidden in all those gigabytes of DNA, there are some hints on how to save them.

Read full, original post: How a Massive Effort to Sequence Genomes of 1.5 Million Species Could Help Preserve Life on Earth

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