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European participation in global biodiversity genomics endeavours aimed at identifying all biodiversity on Earth

DNA-based identification systems can track biodiversity change on large geographic scales and reveal the interactions among the species in a biome. On the other hand, fully sequencing life, including, when relevant, information on symbiotic organisms, microbiomes and parasites, is expected to provide new tools for the conservation, preservation and regeneration of biodiversity, drug discovery and advanced biotechnology.

The International Barcode of Life (iBOL) consortium has set up high-throughput barcoding infrastructure to barcode all biodiversity on Earth by 2045 with the help of the international community and several new infrastructures across the world. Several EU and associated countries currently participate in the barcoding endeavour, but there is no pan-European node of iBOL as such.

Similarly, the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP), initiated in 2018, aims to sequence and catalogue the genomes of all of Earth's currently described eukaryotic species over a period of 10 years. Several European groups have joined the endeavour but no European target or project has been proposed yet.

Proposals should set up one or both European hubs for iBoL and/or EBP, and leverage resources and expertise to advance in completing the barcoding and/or sequencing of European biodiversity in a smart and efficient way, taking advantage of existing networks, infrastructures and expertise. Specific groups of ecological or economic importance, or species under threat, such as pollinators, mycorrhizal fungi, invasive species or disease vectors, should be sufficiently prioritised.

Projects should sufficiently plan their barcoding effort to maximise possible applications, such as, for example: registering patterns of biodiversity across ecoregions to forecast changes in response to anthropogenic drivers of biodiversity loss; discovering new species; tracking invasive alien species by metabarcoding forest soil samples, freshwaters or coastal waters; revealing symbiomes and trophic chains, etc. Proposals should contribute to the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 by generating the reference genomes of the representative species across the tree of life, leveraging the existing genome sequencing facilities. Sample collection standards and protocols should be developed, validated and adopted, as should engagement actions and tools to allow citizens and other non-professional-taxonomist stakeholders to participate at different stages of the activities.

Data, results and methodologies from projects funded under this topic should contribute to the EC Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity[[]], and be permanently and openly accessible in any relevant repositories. International cooperation with strategic third country partners is strongly encouraged, for example with Canada.