Exploring the Flora and Fauna in the Horn of Africa

A team of researchers from the Smithsonian Institution and USGS recently spent a month conducting biological surveys in Djibouti (pronounced ‘ji-BOO-tee’), a small country in the Horn of Africa. Djibouti is surrounded by Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia with coastlines that abut both the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden....

Preventive Medicine Unit Supports Smithsonian Museum in Djibouti Africa

Posted April 26, 2016 - 1:03pm

DJIBOUTI, Africa (NNS) -- A preventive medicine team from Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit 7 in Rota, Spain, spent two weeks chasing insects across the desert in Djibouti as part of an ecological survey of Camp Lemonnier. EPMU-7 team members... participated in the bug chase at Camp Lemonnier and surrounding areas that was led by scientists from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Feb. 10-26... Read full article here:

What's that Genome in the Sand?

Wild animals that are directly visible in their environment are the main attraction for nature lovers. Most people do not know about the existence of a fascinating hidden world of animals that inhabit marine sand. This sand can host an impressive abundance and diversity of microscopic animals known as “meiofauna.”...

Field work in South Africa in Dec 2015

Posted March 21, 2016 - 2:51pm

Field work in South Africa in Dec 2015
18 March 2016

Finally, several months delayed is a post about my recent field work in South Africa that took place in December 2015. I put together my tweets from the field and they can be accessed at this storify story.

The resident bird gets the butterfly.

When you look around you might notice birds going about their daily business. But what are they up to? American redstarts are migratory birds that travel to Jamaica during the winter and potentially compete with resident birds, like the Yellow Warbler, for food. Photo by Dave Inman. CC By-NC-ND 2.0...

Cryptobiotic Condos—How Genomics Helps Monitor Coral Reefs

The following is a blogpost about an expedition sponsored by the Smithsonian's Global Genome Initiative. There’s more to reefs than fishes and coral, far more. In fact, it is estimated fishes and coral make up less than 1% of all reef-associated animal species. The other 99% of reef diversity –...


GGI-Gardens Team at WorkGGI-Gardens Team at Work

The Global Genome Initiative (GGI) was founded with the goal Preserving and Understanding Earth’s Genomic Biodiversity. In order to achieve this mission, GGI-Gardens was founded to collect and preserve genome-quality tissue samples from at least one species belonging to each family, 50% of the genera, and all species of plants on Earth. To carry out this ambitious goal, GGI-Gardens is partnering with arboreta, botanic gardens, and greenhouses worldwide to leverage the incredible diversity contained within these living collections.

In January 2015 the GGI-Gardens established a collaboration to sample vascular plants from the mid-Atlantic region of the United States that included five partner gardens (Smithsonian Gardens and Department of Botany Greenhouse, US Botanic Garden, US National Arboretum and the USDA Germplasm Farm). Since this time, GGI-Gardens has expanded into an international partnership that continues to grow.

GGI-Gardens Membership Opportunities:

Contributing Organization: Includes GGI-Gardens Partners that actively collect voucher specimens from their living collections and contribute this material to a GGBN Member biorepository and recognized herbarium.

Supporting Organization: Includes GGI-Gardens Partners that support the GGI-Gardens mission as a signatory party (Member Organization) to this MOC, but do not actively provide voucher material from their living collection. These members are part of the GGI-Gardens Cooperative and have access to all benefits of GGI-Gardens partnership, as outlined in the GGI-Gardens Partner Benefits Portfolio.

As of June 2017, the GGI-Gardens partnership includes twelve international signatory Partners and GGI-Gardens partners have collected 209 Families, 1,024 Genera, and 1,648 Species and made these collections available for discovery on the GGBN Web Portal. Collection protocols at partner institutions can be easily integrated into regular garden inventory operations or organized with a small group of volunteers or interns. GGI-Gardens coordinates with its partners to develop easy-to-follow collections protocols and workflows, as well as data management resources. We can also provide education and training and connect partners with nearby biorepository and herbarium resources.

GGI-Gardens is a cost effective and highly impactful international program that seeks to provide solutions to one of the 21st Century’s greatest challenges for biodiversity science - collecting and identifying global biodiversity for conservation and research. Tissues collected by GGI-Gardens and its partners inform conservation efforts and support plant conservation efforts (e.g., Targets 3, 8, 15, and 16 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation). The GGI-Gardens program is facilitating worldwide programs that seek to preserve plant biodiversity before it is gone. Living collections at botanic gardens around the world contain an incredible amount of plant diversity – let’s preserve it together!

GGI-Gardens Resources

NMNH Botany Collections Resources


Researchers in the Field
Spring flowers

Where Does Your Seafood Come From?

Providing the world’s growing population with a sustainable and secure supply of seafood is a daunting task. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is one of the biggest threats to global fisheries. IUU fishing in the Caribbean accounts for a large proportion of the spiny lobster and queen conch fisheries,...

Collecting asiloid flies for genomic research

Posted November 25, 2015 - 12:36pm

I have collected flies for my research for almost 20 years now and over the past 15 preserved specimens for.....



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.

Join Us

To learn more about GGI's targeted collecting efforts or the Global Genome Biodiversity Network, please contact us

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.


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