First long-term observatory for genomic biodiversity in Europe launched | Flanders Marine Institute

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First long-term observatory for genomic biodiversity in Europe launched

Added on 2021-06-21
Today, the first sampling campaign in the framework of the brand new European Marine Omics Biodiversity Observation Network (EMO BON) takes place. The aim of the observation network is to ensure a steady, continuous generation of biodiversity data. EMO BON will ultimately provide Europe with a means to monitor and understand its marine biodiversity, and fill the current gaps in the European biological observation data. It is no coincidence that the sampling kicks off on the annual 'Ocean Sampling Day' (June 21st), the day on which marine scientists and citizens worldwide take seawater samples.

The European Marine Omics Biodiversity Observation Network (or in short EMO BON) aims to ensure a steady and continuous generation of ‘baseline’ data on biodiversity. The observation network forms part of the European Marine Biological Resource Centre (EMBRC) and is based around a network of 16 coastal observatory stations around Europe. At each of the stations, marine scientists will sample different habitats for marine biodiversity frequently. Plankton microorganisms, sediment microorganisms, meio- and macrobenthos are among the communities to be analysed. To this end, the researchers will apply innovative DNA analysis techniques (metagenomics and DNA metabarcoding). The collected data will be easily findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (following the FAIR data principles). The sampling events will complement the significant observations efforts already being carried out at the EMBRC sites and complement existing global initiatives.
EMO BON responds to the important need for regularly produced biological data that are generated in a standardised way, with appropriate accompanying meta data, and are FAIR-compliant”, said Nicolas Pade, EMBRC Executive Director. “Our hope is that through EMO BON, we will enhance the understanding of marine biodiversity and this will facilitate the development of new products and services for society”.

The observation network EMO BON is inspired by the ‘Ocean Sampling Day’ and related Assemble Plus activities. On ‘Ocean Sampling Day’, oceanographers and citizens worldwide collect seawater samples to unlock the secrets of marine microbial life. The sampling day has been held annually since 2014 on the summer solstice (June 21st). The Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) coordinates the observation network for the Belgian node of EMBRC and represents EMBRC.BE in the operational committee of EMO BON. In addition to VLIZ, Ghent University, KULeuven and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) also act as partners in the project.

EMBRC is a coordinating research infrastructure providing access to marine biodiversity and consists of state-of-the-art research facilities and training at marine research stations throughout Europe.


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