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The Canadian BioGenome Project

  • Project Leaders: Steven Jones, Maribeth Murray
  • Institutions: BC Cancer (Previously BC Cancer Agency (BCCA))
  • Budget: $6294530
  • Program/Competition: Large Scale Applied Research Programs
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome Canada
  • Fiscal Year: 2021
  • Status: Active

A genome contains the genetic blueprint of life. Each species possesses a characteristic genome, shaped by millions of years of evolution, that makes it specifically adapted to its environment. By studying these genomes we can explore the diversity of life, how species interact and how they create ecosystems.  

This project represents Canadian participation in the Earth BioGenome Project, an international initiative to sequence the genetic material for all complex life on Earth. Canada possesses significant biodiversity, having approximately 80,000 plant and animal species in environments ranging from desert to the arctic.  Rapid climate change and other human-led environmental impacts threaten many of these species.  

In collaboration with scientists, Indigenous Peoples and conservation groups, this project will begin to determine the genetic diversity of Canada’s plant and animals through genomic sequencing. The project will study approximately 400 species and has selected species where an increased understanding of their underlying biology and populations may support conservation actions.    

The sequenced species are also being chosen based on established priorities of Indigenous Peoples, federal and provincial organizations and other conservation and wildlife groups. These groups and organizations have a history of, or strong interest in, using genomic information to develop tools and solutions for biodiversity maintenance, monitoring, conservation, restoration and environmental management. They will immediately use the data to develop tools such as genome-wide markers for DNA profiling, breeding, population monitoring, genetic diversity and pathogens.   

A case study approach will establish priorities for genomics tool development, policy recommendations and a user-friendly geospatial platform of genomics data and information from the project. The data generated will also be freely available to scientists in Canada and worldwide.