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Biodiversity Genomics Europe Aims to Reverse Biodiversity Loss

UC Davis is a collaborating partner in a new European effort to use DNA data to characterize and conserve life on Earth. The Biodiversity Genomics Europe consortium, launched Sept. 26, is affiliated with the Earth BioGenome Project, which has its administrative headquarters at UC Davis. Harris Lewin, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis, chairs the EBP Working Group.

By bringing together Europe’s key practitioners in two fundamental DNA-based technologies - DNA barcoding and genome sequencing - the BioGenEurope consortium will streamline the rollout of these methods across Europe.

“BioGenEurope is a major advance for efforts to gain a complete understanding of biodiversity in Europe and how climate change and other stressors relate to species loss. Conservation programs will get a big boost from the knowledge gained by this new consortium,” Lewin said.

Time is running out. An appalling one in four species on the planet are currently threatened with extinction, putting livelihoods, food supplies, and essential water and nutrient cycles at risk. Knowledge is of the essence in the fight to reverse this unprecedented loss of species and degradation of ecosystems - yet currently our understanding of how life on Earth functions and responds to environmental pressures is far from complete. Genomics provides crucial new tools to answer these questions, and the BGE consortium will cause a quantum leap in the use of genomics across the continent.

Despite centuries of scientific research, an estimated 80% of the world’s species still await scientific discovery and description. Even for described species, telling them apart is often difficult. Moreover, interactions within and among species, and between species and their environment, create a hugely complex picture from individual to planetary levels. Genomic science is our best hope for success in mapping these interdependencies and predicting how individuals and groups may respond to environmental change.

Read the full article by Andy Fell on the CBS website.

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