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Genomics & Biodiversity: Pan European initiative plans to decipher the genomes of all European species

Teaser: Urgent call on the European Commission to invest in the sequencing of all animal, plants and microorganisms in Europe to understand, manage, and restore biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The recently initiated European Reference Genome Atlas calls for a pan-European project to analyse the genomes of all animals, plants, and microorganisms in Europe. The decoding of the genetic makeup of species is an essential step for conservation. Scientists from over 16 EU countries representing more than 39 institutions have committed themselves to the project and have sent a position paper to the European Commission. "As a scientific association across Europe, we demand that the important social challenge of species conservation is considered by the European Parliament and that the promotion of genome research is given priority," said Jun. Prof. Dr. Ann-Marie Waldvogel (University of Cologne, Germany), co-founder of the initiative. The project will develop a leading role in biodiversity and genome research for Europe, with the Institut de Recerca de la Biodiversitat (IRBio) at the Universitat de Barcelona (UB) assuming an important role within Spain.

Biodiversity in Europe is shrinking every day due to the climate crisis and direct human activity, but it is difficult to predict which species will win or lose the race against the clock of global change. "The answer to this can be read from a species‘ genome," is also claimed in  the “European Reference Genome Atlas” initiative. “These findings are essential for sustainable agriculture and fisheries as well as species protection. So, this is also addressing human well-being, our health and economic systems.” There is an urgent need to determine which factors pose the greatest threat to individual species. This challenge can only be met with a large-scale, transnational project. Findings from the European Reference Genome Atlas will enable directed and effective species conservation management to sustainably preserve European biodiversity and the performance of ecosystems.