UPSC Exam Preparation: Topic of the Day – Earth Bio-Genome Project (EBP)
There are about 8 million eukaryotic species and only 0.2% of the eukaryotic genome have been sequenced so far which are still in the crudest form. A conceptual argument for sequencing eukaryotic life was made by Stephen Richards in 2015. Powerful advances in genome sequencing technology, informatics, automation, and artificial intelligence have propelled humankind to the threshold of a new beginning in understanding, utilizing, and conserving biodiversity.
The Earth Bio-Genome Project (EBP) is an international consortium of scientists which would undertake the project that aims to sequence, catalog, and characterize the genomes of every eukaryotic biodiversity on Earth, over a period of 10 years. It aims to sequence 1.5 million species in three phases. The EBP project will help to create a detailed genetic sequence and reveal evolutionary connections among genus, orders and families that will make up the Digital Library of life.
Other Partners of EBP – Africa, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union and United States, Global Genome Biodiversity Network, the Global Invertebrate Genomics Alliance, the i5K Initiative to sequence 5000 Arthropod Genome and Genome 10K Project.
Vision of the Project:
The Earth Bio-Genome Project aims at creating a new foundation for biology, informing a broad range of major issues facing humanity, such as the impact of climate change on biodiversity, the conservation of endangered species and ecosystems, and the preservation and enhancement of ecosystem services. The project could also lead to discovery of more drugs and let researchers find more sources of food as well.
- Data sharing policies need to be placed to ensure permanent, freely available resources for future scientific discovery while respecting access and benefit sharing guidelines of the Nagoya Protocol.
- The organisational and scientific challenges are also being highlighted for the execution of the project and require a coordinated global effort just like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.
- Collection of samples will be difficult due to remoteness of their natural habitat.
- The large database thus created would also require a space as large as 200 petabyte.
- Securing a funding of $4.7 billion is also a challenge.
World Economic Forum is also collaborating with EGP through its Fourth Industrial Revolution for the Earth Initiative under which they are developing Earth Bank Codes. Thus the Fourth Industrial Revolution in biology could offer innovations to link new models for biodiversity management.