A Norwegian Earth Biogenome Project: the initial launch phase (EBP-Nor)
Sequencing Life for the Future of Life
Biodiversity is increasingly threatened by human-related activities. Understanding and preserving ecosystems and species are global imperatives for human survival and prosperity. Knowing the complete DNA sequences (genomes) of all species of life on Earth will provide the ultimate fundament for addressing biological questions of all kinds (fundamental and applied) and will represent an unprecedented gold-mine of scientific data for biotechnology, medicine and drug development, bioprospecting, new biomaterials, biofuels and bioproduction (including aquaculture, horticulture and livestock production).
The Earth BioGenome Project (EBP) is a global non-profit initiative established for this purpose: to catalogue the genomes of the entirety of all of Earth's 1.5 million eukaryotic species over a period of ten years. EBP has member institutions across the world including in USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, UK, Germany, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, China, South Korea and Australia.
The Nordic countries are represented by University of Oslo, SciLifeLab (University of Stockholm, Technical University, Stockholm (KTH), Uppsala University) and University of Copenhagen. Here we propose a Norwegian national network node of EBP, EBPNor, set up to sequence all Norwegian eukaryotic species (estimated to 45,000 in total) over the same period.
EBP-Nor is a bottom-up initiative embraced by the seven major Norwegian universities by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). A Norwegian EBP will have a huge impact on the development of the future bioeconomy, preserving biodiversity and providing knowledge needed to handle future anthropogenic eco-evolutionary disease crises like SARS, Ebola and Covid-19. The initial aims, constitution, stakeholders, structure, scientific plans, and requirements for establishing the EBP-Nor project are outlined as a basis for wider discussion.