BGE Research


BGE provides an integrated effort to gather biological material for genomic science on a grand scale

The BGE consortium is undertaking an international effort to sample biological material through fieldwork campaigns and from multiple natural science collections, such as natural history museums and herbaria. The consortium incorporates collections and scientists covering a broad spectrum of taxa and expertise. Citizen scientists will also provide crucial input, through ‘bioblitz’ events and carrying our environmental sampling for eDNA analysis.

All sampling complies with legal and ethical protocols, including the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing, with collecting permits in place. All samples – of both individual organisms and communities – are archived in biobanks to ensure they are accessible for future use and verification.

Sampling for genome sequencing prioritises species important to agriculture, fisheries, and key ecosystem processes, as well as endemic and threatened species, pests and disease vectors, biodiversity hotspots, and species that extend the geographic and evolutionary range of genomes available. So far, the genome-sampling team, led by Astrid Boehne of the Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change and working with the ERGA sampling and sample-processing committee, has been creating a prioritisation scheme to select species for genome generation. We have selected a first batch of species from biodiversity hotspots for sequencing, and have been working on logistics and legal frameworks for shipping samples to the sequencing team.

DNA-barcode sampling focuses on key groups including insect pollinators, and aquatic (freshwater and marine) invertebrates, fish and plants. For metabarcoding, targeted community samples of insect pollinators, soil organisms, mountain bryophytes and lichens, and marine species, are being conducted at hundreds of sites across Europe. Like the genome stream, the first step is a gap analysis to identify missing and underrepresented species in these groups among publicly available barcode libraries and genomes. So far we have completed the gap analysis for European pollinators, and planning is underway for museum sampling for barcode sequencing and community sampling for metabarcoding. In this we are coordinating with existing programmes such as SPRING.