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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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.

Preserving Earth's Plant Diversity

Green plants are one of the most diverse groups of life on Earth. Since the Egyptian Pharaohs started the world's first arboretum, the importance of preserving the diversity of plant life has been understood. Today, all across the world, green houses, arboretums, and seed banks are working to preserve plant diversity. GGI helps to take their missions to the next level with its project: GGI Gardens.

Gathering the Evidence

Smithsonian scientists possess an unparalleled wealth of knowledge about Earth's flora and fauna. They are experts on the Tree of Life and know which organisms to collect. Surprisingly, we only need to sample a small fraction of the planet's species in order to vastly improve our knowledge of its genomic diversity.

Earth’s Bounty, On Ice

Researchers from a variety of disciplines will study the plant and animal samples we gather, today and far into the future. We are preserving them in huge sub-zero freezers, in perpetuity.

The National Museum of Natural History's new biorepository can hold more than 4 million samples. As the tools for decoding genomes improve, researchers can return to these collections to extract new information.

An Entomologist, Arachnologist, and Illustrator Walk into the woods

Posted June 22, 2015 - 12:00am

Well, it was actually several entomologists, and together this group conducted a two-day, BioBlitz-style, sampling of Southern Appalachian terrestrial (living on land) invertebrates for genomic preservation! Read on for details from one of our first GGI collecting expeditions!

Preserving and Understanding the genomic diversity of life on Earth

Posted May 21, 2015 - 12:00am

An introduction to the Global Genome Initiative from its Director, Jonathan A. Coddington.


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