Title: Planetary Biodiversity Mission
CBG Units: All
Scope: Global research alliance to build a complete DNA reference library for all species on Earth
Project Duration: 2020-2040
Stage: Project Initiation – Securing Funding
Through the International Barcode of Life (iBOL), DNA barcoding has proved itself to be a powerful tool on a scale previously unprecedented in the biodiversity sciences. As we enter what many are calling the Sixth Extinction, the Planetary Biodiversity Mission (PBM) seeks to establish DNA barcoding as a global megascience project with the goal of sequencing all species on Earth before they are lost. This initiative requires strong international collaboration as it is estimated that there are from 10-20M multicellular species.
Over the next 25 years, the PBM will build upon the successes of iBOL and continue to inventory all life on Earth. On August 10th 2015, iBOL reached their target of barcoding 500K species but there is much more work to be done. Canada continues to lead the science of DNA barcoding where massive strides towards high-throughput DNA sequencing have been made at the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics.
“No method of advancing science is so productive as the development of new and more powerful instruments and methods of research.” – George Hale (April 28, 1928)
To date, the CBG has completed the species inventory for vertebrates, insects, vascular plants, and seaweeds (1.5M barcodes). In 2015 alone, the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics sequenced over 1M DNA barcodes. The adoption of modern advances in DNA sequencing technologies and protocols such as Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) will vastly improve output rates. Built with “big data” in mind, BOLD4 – the newest iteration of the Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) – was built specifically with the tools and additional capabilities to support initiatives such as the PBM.
Ultimately, the PBM will create the richest database for studies of ecology, evolution, and morphology, and become the world’s preeminent resource for genomic analysis. The global alliance of researchers will contribute to an advanced bio-surveillance initiative enabling scientists to track and forecast biotic change on a magnitude otherwise unimaginable today.
CBC News (August 17 2015). CBC.
Ivan Semeniuk (August 9 2015). The Globe and Mail.