By Luisa Marins (European Reference Genome Atlas, ERGA)
One of the main goals of BGE is to support the new generation of researchers in biodiversity genomics by promoting training and knowledge sharing activities across Europe. Well-qualified trainers and training materials are essential assets to achieve this objective. Representatives of many BGE partners institutions met last week at the Aristotle University Thessaloniki, Greece, for an intensive workshop focused on developing a foundational training framework in biodiversity genomics.
Above: The workshop gathered representatives from 13 BGE partner institutions, offering an excellent opportunity for exchanging knowledge and integrating the barcoding and reference-genome streams of BGE.
The workshop also aimed at aligning activities and sharing knowledge between the reference-genomes and reference-barcodes communities of BGE. The sessions were distributed across 3 days of theoretical presentations and hands-on activities, covering major steps of the genomic workflow. This journey included everything from sample collection and DNA extraction in the “wet lab” to the final stages of data processing and uploading to computational databases.
Above: Any biodiversity genomics workflow starts with sampling – the “tent-like” Malaise traps are one of the most classical methods for collecting insects in the field. Participants had a chance to learn more about this and other sampling techniques.
Above: The production of high-quality reference genomes generally requires fresh biological samples and specialised techniques for the extraction of “high molecular weight DNA”.
This very productive workshop was just the start of the broader BGE Joint Network Training task. The valuable insights and lessons learned in Thessaloniki are now being summarised into a handbook. These guidelines will serve as a basis for similar workshops to be organised by other BGE partner institutions across Europe throughout 2024.
Above: Real-time DNA sequencing allows for the fast identification of species in a sample through DNA barcoding.
BGE’s effort to connect expertise from the DNA barcode and full genome strands in joint actions is focused on priority areas in biodiversity research, training, and conservation where current challenges are recognised and there are clear needs for well-aligned developments that will accelerate future work. Stay tuned while we continue our endeavour to demonstrate the benefits of working together!