A genome contains the genetic blueprint of life. Each species possesses its own characteristic genome, shaped by millions of years of evolution allowing each organism to be specifically adapted to its environment. Through the study of these genomes, we can explore the diversity of life, how species interact, and how they create ecosystems. This project represents Canadian participation in the Earth BioGenome Project.
This is an international initiative with the goal of sequencing the genetic material for all complex life on Earth. Canada possesses significant biodiversity having approximately 80,000 plant and animal species, in environments ranging from desert to the arctic. Many of these species are under threat due to rapid changes in climate and other human-led impacts on our environment. In collaboration with scientists, Indigenous peoples and conservation groups, this project will embark on the task of determining the genetic diversity of Canada’s plants and animals through genomic sequencing.
Working with our partners we will identify approximately 400 species, where a genome will aid in their conservation and increase our understanding of their underlying biology and populations. The species we sequence are—or will be—selected based on existing and established priorities of Indigenous peoples, federal and provincial organizations and other conservation and wildlife groups. These groups and organizations have a history of (or a strong interest in) using genomic information to develop tools and solutions for the maintenance of biodiversity, monitoring, conservation, restoration and environmental management. They will immediately make use of the data we provide to develop tools such as genome-wide markers for DNA profiling, breeding, population monitoring, genetic diversity and pathogens. Through a case study approach, we will also work with partners to establish priorities for genomics tool development, policy recommendations for the use of genomics to maintain biodiversity and support conservation and management, and a user-friendly geospatial platform of genomics data and information from the project. The data generated will also be freely available to scientists in Canada and worldwide.