The APRU Biodiversity Genomics Program and Network was launched with an inaugural symposium on November 30. The event brought together leading genomics experts from the region to discuss progress in this area, the challenges they face, and how collective action can advance biodiversity genomics. While ‘10–15 million eukaryotic species and perhaps trillions of bacterial and archaeal species adorn the Tree of Life, ∼2.3 million are actually known, and of those, fewer than 15,000, mostly microbes, have completed or partially sequenced genomes’ (1)
“We are all very aware of threats to the world’s biodiversity so APRU has developed this symposium in biodiversity genomics to share best practices and discuss challenges. We are doing this in partnership with the University of Sydney, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and UC Davis to share best practices and discuss challenges in biodiversity genomics, which we hope will lead to the development of a region wide program supporting important capacity building activities,” APRU Secretary General Christopher Tremewan said, emphasizing the importance the program will have in addressing the biodiversity challenges of the region.
Nathan Lo, Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Sydney, together with Jerome Hui, Associate Professor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong’s School of Life Sciences, led on the development of the Symposium and moderated the event.
Harris Lewin, Professor of Evolution and Ecology at the University of California, Davis, gave the keynote address on the Earth BioGenome Project, an initiative that aims to sequence and catalog the genomes of all of Earth’s currently described eukaryotic species over a period of ten years. Lewin warned that eukaryotic life is under threat from pollution, over-exploitation, invasive species and, even more alarmingly, climate change.
Andrew Jackson Crawford, Associate Professor at the Department of Biological Sciences of the Universidad de los Andes, presented on challenges and solutions for biodiversity genomics in Colombia. Dr. Carolyn Hogg, Senior Research Manager for the Australasian Wildlife Genomics Group in the Faculty of Science of The University of Sydney, explained how genomics could be used to reduce the rate of species extinction in Australia. The other speakers were Dr. Herawati Sudoyo, Deputy Director of the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology in Jakarta; Balaji Chattopadhyay, Assistant Professor at the Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University; Subha Bhassu, Professor of Animal Genetics and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Malaya’s Institute of Biological Sciences; Hayde Galvez, Assistant Professor and Researcher at the University of the Philippines Los Banos; and program co-leader Jerome Hui.
Following the presentations, Kathy Belov, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Global Engagement) and Professor of Comparative Genomics at the University of Sydney, explained the APRU Biodiversity Genomics Program and Network’s future agenda, encouraging anyone interested to join the group to approach the organizers.
“Over the coming months we will hold a series of workshops with the aim of building a new APRU strategic project focused on Biodiversity. This platform will give biodiversity researchers around the Pacific Rim an opportunity to join together to tackle biodiversity decline in our region using the latest advances in science. Working together we can influence policy and tackle one of the greatest challenges facing our region – the loss of our iconic native species,” Belov said.
Find out more details about the symposium here.
(1) Earth BioGenome Project: Sequencing life for the future of life