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Scientists set out to map genomes of 1.5 million species

Cara J

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An international network of biologists is embarking on a decade-long effort to map the genomes of over a million complex life forms in an effort to benefit wildlife research and conservation. The Earth BioGenome Project intends to unite big sequencing centers and ongoing efforts worldwide, such as the Vertebrate Genomes Project and the Global Genome Biodiversity Network, in an effort to discover new species and inform conservation efforts for imperiled wildlife. “Declining biodiversity and the effect of global climate change on biodiversity are going to affect humankind over the next century,” said Harris Lewin, first author on the paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences detailing the project. “We’re going into the sixth mass extinction. There are 23,000 known rare and endangered species according to [the International Union for the Conservation of Nature], and we have seen over the past 40 years a decline in vertebrate population size by 52 percent. The problem we’re facing is the conservation, preservation and restoration of biodiversity.” The network of scientists hopes to sequence the genomes of all 1.5 million known eukaryotes — organisms that carry DNA in their cell nuclei — a group that includes all life except bacteria and [...]

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