Biodiversity in crisis

An estimated 25% of species are threatened with extinction worldwide due to large-scale environmental change. Addressing this global biodiversity crisis requires an understanding of the diversity of life on Earth, how that diversity functions and interacts, and how biodiversity responds to different environmental pressures.

However, after centuries of research, an estimated 80% of the world’s multicellular species still await scientific discovery and description. Even for described species, telling them apart is often difficult, and knowledge of their distributions, variation, properties, inter-dependencies, and conservation status remain patchy and incomplete.

Biodiversity Genomics Europe

Biodiversity Genomics Europe, funded by Horizon Europe call HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-01-01, aims at aligning the resources and research agendas of both DNA barcoding and reference genome generation, thus opening the door for a true quantum leap in biodiversity genomics research in Europe.

Despite ground-breaking developments in both DNA barcoding and full genome sequencing, there remains a critical need to develop and strengthen functioning communities of practice at multiple scales that translate into building capacity, boosting complementarity among activities in individual countries and establishing mechanisms to democratise participation.

To address this challenge from the European perspective, the BGE consortium, with 33 partners, brings together two newly formed networks:

The project will tackle three fundamental objectives:

  • Establish functioning biodiversity genomics networks at the European level to connect and grow community capacity to tackle the biodiversity crisis using genomic tools.
  • Establish and implement large-scale biodiversity genomic data generation pipelines for Europe to accelerate the production and accessibility of genomic data for biodiversity characterisation, conservation and biomonitoring.
  • Apply genomic tools to enhance understanding of pan-European biodiversity and biodiversity declines to improve the efficacy of management interventions and biomonitoring programmes.

Joint Network Activities

The joint work in WP12 is focused on priority areas in biodiversity research, training, and conservation where current challenges are recognised and there are clear needs for well-aligned developments that will accelerate future work.

Robert Waterhouse, BGE Joint Network Activities Coordinator describes the opportunities that BGE will provide to bring together two scientific strands hitherto separated: the DNA barcoding and the full genome communities.

If we are going to achieve the kind of scaling up that we want to achieve, we need to learn from each other, even if we have existed in parallel for some time.

eScienceLab contributions

UK partners in Horizon Europe projects are funded through Innovate UK (#10040409) from the UKRI Horizon Europe guarantee.

Contributions include bringing RO-Crate to COPO in WP12, and to cross-walk to FAIR-IMPACT and BioDT.

  • WP12: Joint Network Activities (lead: UNIL)
    • T12.5 FAIR Data Infrastructures (lead: ELIXIR/EBI)
    • MS12.1.1 Joint network training activities
    • MS12.2.1 Pollinator population sampling
    • MS12.3.1 Multi-locus sequence assays and resequencing
    • MS12.4.1 Dark taxa genomics
    • MS12.5.1 Data infrastructures for biodiversity genomics
    • MS12.6.1 (Meta)data change management
    • MS12.7.1 Pollinator intraspecific genome diversity
    • MS12.8.1 Species resolution with multi-locus sequencing M32 12 Report submitted
    • D12.1 Joint training activities
    • D12.2 Population-level sample
    • D12.3 Multi-locus sequence dataset
    • D12.4 Future-proofing dark taxa samples
    • D12.5 Developed FAIR data infrastructures
    • D12.6 Metadata change management implementations
    • D12.7 Developed intraspecific monitoring tools
    • D12.8 Multi-locus barcoding protocol

Task T12.5 will build on genomics (meta)data management systems of the Darwin Tree of Life, International Barcode of Life (iBOL), ELIXIR and other infrastructures, services, and interoperability resources to provide a comprehensive FAIR data foundation.

This will support European Reference Genome Atlas (ERGA) and BIOSCAN Europe workflows in an integrated framework using the COPO data brokering platform to support the processing, validation, and ingestion of standardised sample, barcode and sequencing metadata into the biodiversity genomics data ecosystem.