In Maryland, the U.S. Department of Agriculture partnered in the Earth BioGenome Project, biology’s version of the moonshot, to yield new agriculture solutions. EBP is an international cooperative initiative to sequence during the next 10 years the DNA of more than 1.5 million species – those more complex than bacteria – representing the world’s biodiversity.
Building on already-existing efforts to sequence the genomes of specific taxonomic groups, EBP calls for scientists to sequence the genomes of 9,330 species, one from each plant, animal and protozoan taxonomic family as reference genomes in the first three years.
Then, the plan calls for sequencing the genome of one species from each genus – the next taxonomic division finer than family – during years four to seven, although in less detail, for a total of about 150,000 genera. The remaining 1.5 million species would be sequenced in still less detail during the final four years of the project.