top of page

Sequencing Europe's Biodiversity: ERGA's mission to Compile a European Atlas of Reference Genomes

Authors: Christian de Guttry, Robert Waterhouse and Camila Mazzoni

Considering the unprecedented biodiversity crisis facing our planet, comprehensive efforts to understand, protect, restore, and conserve species and their ecosystems are more important than ever. The European Reference Genome Atlas (ERGA) emerges as a community response of scientists contributing to this endeavour by using DNA to study biodiversity. In alignment with the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP), this pan-European initiative aims to coordinate the production of high-quality reference genomes of European eukaryotic biodiversity. In an exciting development, researchers from the ERGA community describe their vision & principles in a short Correspondence published at Nature, entitled "Biodiversity: assembling an atlas of European Reference Genomes", marking a significant milestone in ERGA’s mission.

The ERGA Initiative: At the heart of ERGA lies a diverse community of scientists, driven by a shared vision to optimise reference genome generation. ERGA seeks to unlock the potential of genomics technologies for biodiversity research and conservation by developing common protocols, workflows, and resources. Our collaborative effort involves researchers from a variety of fields and institutions throughout Europe, all committed to advancing our understanding and preservation of our rich biological heritage.

Guiding Principles: ERGA's governance is rooted in a set of core principles that shape its actions and decisions. Scientific excellence forms the bedrock, ensuring that research conducted under ERGA's umbrella meets the highest quality standards. Distributed expertise and infrastructure across Europe enable access to a broad range of specialised knowledge and cutting-edge technologies. ERGA strives for balanced taxonomic, geographic, and habitat representation, recognizing the importance of preserving biodiversity in all its forms. The initiative adheres to FAIR guidelines (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) for data generation and release, enabling wide accessibility and facilitating collaborations within the scientific community. Furthermore, ERGA places a strong emphasis on prioritising eukaryotic species that require immediate attention, ensuring that resources allocated generate benefits in the short-term to both research and society.

Funding and Collaboration: To achieve its ambitious goals, ERGA receives support from the European Union and associated countries (Switzerland and United Kingdom) as part of the Biodiversity Genomics Europe (BGE) project. This funding not only highlights the importance of ERGA's work but also underscores the commitment of European nations to biodiversity research and conservation.

Join the Journey! ERGA's mission to compile a European atlas of reference genomes holds immense promise for biodiversity protection and restoration. Through collaboration, knowledge sharing, and the application of cutting-edge genomics technologies, ERGA seeks to make a tangible difference in preserving Europe's natural heritage. With more than 800 ERGA members to date, we invite you to join us on this collective journey as we continue to take significant steps towards advancing the use of genomics approaches for the safeguarding of our planet's incredible biodiversity for generations to come.

Read the correspondence:


bottom of page