Scientists race to digitize DNA of every known species on the planet
Scientists around the world are racing to record the genetic blueprint of all known species on Earth.This effort comes at a time when the United Nations warn An estimated one million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades.
“It’s absolutely urgent,” researcher Joanna Halley told CBS News’ Roxana Sabery. “It’s really important to protect the species on this planet. They share with us, they keep us going, and the more we erode the world, the less it will be.”
Around 5,000 scientists worldwide are involved Earth Biogenome ProjectOver the next decade, the team will digitize the DNA of Earth’s 1.8 million named plants, animals, fungi and single-celled eukaryotes. By the end of 2022, scientists plan to sequence 3,000 genomes.
By sequencing the DNA of life on Earth, researchers aim to benefit human well-being, preserve biodiversity and better understand ecosystems.
“Everything is interconnected,” leads a group Working under the Earth Biogenome Project, told Saberi. “We need the services these plants, animals and fungi provide us…so by understanding how they do it, we can help humans as well.”
Researchers in the UK have so far documented the genetic blueprints of nearly 400 of the country’s 70,000 known species.
The long process begins with researchers like Harry who help find species. The collected samples are then sent for sorting before being shipped to a sequencing lab. Then share the data online.
“We’ll be able to look at a species and determine if it’s endangered, and we’ll know how we can keep it going,” Blaxter said.
Decoding DNA alone won’t save endangered plants and animals, but it could be beneficial as more species endangered, the scientists added.