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Earth BioGenome Project Holds Solutions for Agriculture's Future
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp (IP Logged)
Date: May 06, 2018 08:32AM

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has partnered with the Earth
BioGenome Project (EBP) in an effort that will yield millions of powerful
new solutions to agriculture's challenges. EBP is an international
cooperative initiative to sequence in the next 10 years the DNA of more than
1.5 million species-those more complex than bacteria-representing the
world's biodiversity.

EBP is calling scientists to sequence the genomes of 9,330 species, one of
each plant, animal, and protozoan taxonomic family as reference genomes in
the first three years. In years four to seven, the plan calls for sequencing
the genome of one species from each genus-the next taxonomic division finer
than family for a total of about 150,000 genera. The remaining 1.5 million
species would be sequenced in the final four years of the project. So far,
scientists from around the world, individually and in various networks, have
sequenced the genomes of about 15,000 species, less than 0.1 percent of all
life on Earth.

"The benefits that will come from increasing our knowledge and understanding
of the genomes of the Earth's biodiversity will be monumental, especially
for agriculture," explained Kevin Hackett, senior national program leader
for entomology with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). Hackett is
one of only three federal members on the 23-person EBP steering committee,
representing agriculture. As an example of the importance of the project to
agriculture, Hackett pointed out that insects destroy one-fifth of the
world's crop production annually and would do worse without pesticides.
Control of insect devastation is an ongoing struggle, and pesticide
resistance is an ever-evolving problem, requiring researchers to look
constantly for new ways to tackle the issue.


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