Storing genomic collections on ice in one of the Global Genome Biodiversity Network's partner biodiversity repositories. Storing genomic collections on ice in one of the Global Genome Biodiversity Network's partner biodiversity repositories.

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Sequencing initiatives like the Earth BioGenome Project, i5K, GIGA and Genome10K depend on access to DNA and tissue collected and preserved according to high quality standards in order to meet their research goals. Until now, these genetic samples have been difficult to find, inhibiting the potential for discovery in areas of research such as conservation, environmental monitoring, and food safety. GGI is meeting this research demand through targeted collecting and preservation efforts. As a result of these collections, today and far in to the future, researchers from countless disciplines will study plant and animal samples preserved by Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History scientists, GGBN and GGI Garden partners.

Collection Efforts at National Museum of Natural History

Through its Peer and Rolling awards programs, GGI has funded over 100 Smithsonian projects to collect and preserve Earth’s biodiversity in the Smithsonian’s biorepository. The Smithsonian’s biorepository is perhaps the flagship facility for biodiversity genomics and seeks to maintain that position through the continued growth and investment in genetic collections for research both at the Smithsonian and globally. Through GGI’s support, the NMNH has made more than 100,000 standardized plant and animal genetic samples discoverable for research.

Global Collections Efforts

The Global Genome Biodiversity Network

Early on, GGI working within the unique framework of the Smithsonian, focused on eliminating the biggest obstacle obstructing universal genomic research: the preservation of, and access to, genomic samples. Realizing that global progress towards this goal required international partnership and collaboration, GGI founded and leads GGBN, the pre-eminent worldwide guide to accessible biodiversity genomic samples.

GGBN is an international network of biorepositories because multilateral collaboration is essential in the 21st century. As of December 2018, this five year old, rapidly expanding network has over 80 members in 30 countries, over 1.8 million samples, and already contains over a third of all biological families on Earth. GGBN is a “big data” one-stop index to all scientific genomic samples on Earth, serving as the infrastructure for GGI collections.

GGI Gardens

With the collections infrastructure well in place through GGBN, the Global Genome Initiative is now focusing its efforts in strategically filling those collections starting with gaps in plant biodiversity. The Global Genome Initiative for Gardens (GGI-Gardens) is an international partnership dedicated to preserving and understanding plant diversity on Earth by sampling tissues from gardens, greenhouses, and arboreta and making the records of these tissues discoverable for research in order to better understand their relevance to humanity. As of December 2018, the Gardens partnership consists of 19 members from five countries working towards the preservation and discoverability of their living collections.

There are an estimated 350,000 species of plants on Earth and a large number of them have not yet been discovered or described. Collecting, much less preserving genome-quality tissue samples, for so many organisms is a monumental task, but one that GGI-Gardens is prepared to tackle. Unlike animals, extraordinary proportions of all plant diversity have been in cultivation by gardeners literally for millennia. One third of the botanic gardens around the world contain more than 30% of land plant species, 59% of land plant genera, and 75% of land plant families, globally. From this strategic perspective, botanic gardens are uniquely positioned to answer to the GGI mission—to preserve and understand Earth’s genomic biodiversity.