Many research sites now provide ongoing observations on genetic diversity, but how can researchers around the world share this information?

There are a large number of long-term study sites looking at the genetic diversity of many different kinds of organisms around the world. The new Genomic Observatories Network (GOs Network) allows researchers to combine this knowledge and share ideas for the first time.

Heligoland is a small archipelago in the North Sea, a shared study site. Image: Pegasus
© Pegasus

The term biodiversity covers several levels of variation, from genes to species to ecosystems. Of these, genetic diversity has received the least attention. Yet, the conservation of genetic diversity (both within and among species) is vital for the wellbeing of both humans and other organisms.

In order to monitor genetic diversity, research sites have been established around the world, all working to generate genetic (“genomic”) biodiversity observations. These sites are located in areas with a rich history of environmental or ecological data collection and a long-term commitment.

While collecting this data is important, without an effective network to share information, researchers aren’t able to build up a global picture of genetic diversity and its changes over time.

The GOs Network is a global network of research sites aimed at inventorying genomic biodiversity and mapping its distribution over time and space. GOs also link genomic information to other information, including ecological data.

The mission of the new Genomic Observatories Network has just been established. The Network will also promote broad community participation by making it easier to share data and tools for analysing genomic observations.

Dr Dan Faith
Principal Research Scientist

More information:
Genomic Observatories is one focus of our working group on genetic diversity, within the Global Biodiversity Observation Network.

I co-lead this working group with Tet Yahara of Kyushu University. Working group members Dawn Field and Neil Davies have lead much of the development of Genomic Observatories.

In our paper, the 69 founding co-authors state their intention to work together to launch the GOs Network:. Neil Davies et al. (2014) The founding charter of the Genomic Observatories Network. GigaScience, 3:2 doi:10.1186/2047-217X-3-2.