VIDEO: The Norwegian contribution to the Earth BioGenome Project: EBP-nor

Norwegian scientists take part in the World’s largest biology project mapping the genome of all organisms on Earth - See how in this short video



You might have heard about the Human Genome Project? It was the world’s largest collaborative biological project and mapped and sequenced all the genes of the human genome. A genome is an organism’s complete set of genetic instructions and contains the information needed to build that organism.

Now that the human genome is mapped and sequenced, researchers from around the world have started to collaborate on another perhaps even larger project - The Earth BioGenome Project (EBP). EBP was launched in 2018 with the goal to sequence and assemble high quality reference genomes of all eukaryotic genomes on Earth over a period of ten years. Eukaryotes are any cell or organism that possesses a clearly defined nucleus, and includes plants, animals, and fungi, but not bacteria.

The Norwegian part of the project, EBP-Nor, will contribute to this global mission by sequencing, cataloging and assembling all eukaryotic species occurring in Norway, estimated to about 70,000 species. EBP-Nor is a partnership of the major universities in Norway (UiO, NMBU, UiB, NTNU, Uni Nord and UiT), the research institute SINTEF, and the non-academic institutions REVOcean, the Life Science Cluster, the Norwegian Environment Agency, and ArcticZymes Technologies.

The Research Council of Norway is providing 30 million NOK in funding to EBP-nor to start the national effort.

The project lead for EBP-Nor is Professor Kjetill Sigurd Jakobsen at the Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), University of Oslo.

“Here at University of Oslo we started quite early with the new technologies that we are using in this project. All the way back to the 2009-2010, we sequenced the Atlantic cod genome using the modern technology,” says Professor Jakobsen. The results were published in 2011.

Sequencing the Atlantic cod genome has provided the scientist with new insight. For example, it made a huge impact when they discovered the strange and unique immune system of cod in 2011, and in 2016 they found a sex gene that can make fish farming more profitable.

Professor Jakobsen says that sequencing the genome of all organisms on Earth will be a tremendous source of information to understand biology of all kinds.

“Just like the Internet changed the world by sharing information open and wide and making it available to everyone. So will documenting the genome sequences of life on the Earth, open up new possibilities for humankind,” he says.

“We can better improve food production. We can, by understanding the immune system,

make more efficient vaccines and more efficient treatments of different illnesses.”

Jakobsen is not the only one that believes the project will have a significant impact. The prestigious scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), published a special feature called The Earth BioGenome Project: The Launch of a Moonshot for Biology. One of the articles is co-authored by Professor Jakobsen.

PNAS special issue states that the Earth BioGenome Project is the largest and one of the most ambitious coordinated scientific efforts in the history of biology as it aims to sequence all known eukaryotic species in a 10-year timeframe.


«We will change the world», says Jakobsen.



About Centre for Digital Life Norway

The Centre for Digital Life Norway (DLN) is a national centre for biotechnology research, education and innovation. The centre facilitates transdisciplinary collaboration across institutions, fields of research and the research projects in the centre. The centre is a collaborative project between the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the University of Oslo (UiO), the University of Bergen (UiB), the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Oslo University Hospital (OUS), SINTEF and UiT The Arctic University of Norway. The centre is run by a competence hub and includes a research school and more than 40 research projects. The competence hub is funded by the Research Council of Norway.

Published June 7, 2022 3:39 PM - Last modified June 8, 2022 9:02 AM