Proposals to “sequence the DNA of all life on Earth” suffer from the same issues as “naming all the species”

Tanzania ichneumonid P1000757

There’s a short piece on the website of the journal Science this week entitled “Biologists propose to sequence the DNA of all life on Earth“.  I don’t propose to say much about it except to say to anyone interested: read that piece, then read my recent post entitled “The road to degradation: is ‘naming all the species’ achievable or even desirable?

In my view “naming all the species” and “sequencing the DNA of all life” suffer the same issues and flaws. At a time when research funding is becoming ever more difficult to obtain (in part because it’s becoming more concentrated on fewer institutions and individuals) such multi-billion dollar initiatives make great headlines, but are they value for money?

At the moment Science also has a series of stories on its conservation news web pages, and you can find others all over the web, that point to our inability to conserve even large, charismatic species such as elephants and the big cats, and how this in turn can impact on human survival and wellbeing.  Perhaps we should devote more funding and more research energy to fixing these issues before we attempt such large-scale projects?

As always, your opinions and comments are welcomed.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Proposals to “sequence the DNA of all life on Earth” suffer from the same issues as “naming all the species”

  1. Pingback: Sequencing the World – developingbio

  2. I am also skeptical of mega projects such as this. DNA sequencing is relatively easy compared to the messy, complex process of working with communities to try and preserve species. But once you start thinking about how they would achieve this goal – how will they distinguish between species without the aid of taxonomists? – then it starts to get more complicated.

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