Open Access Review

A call for an international network of genomic observatories (GOs)

Neil Davies12, Chris Meyer3, Jack A Gilbert45, Linda Amaral-Zettler6, John Deck1, Mesude Bicak7, Philippe Rocca-Serra8, Susanna Assunta-Sansone8, Kathy Willis2 and Dawn Field278*

Author Affiliations

1 Gump South Pacific Research Station, University of California Berkeley, BP 244 98728, Moorea, French Polynesia

2 Biodiversity Institute, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, The Tinbergen Building, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS, UK

3 Department of Invertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, PO Box 37012, MRC-163, Washington, DC, 20013, USA

4 Institute for Genomic and Systems Biology, Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 South Cass Avenue, Argonne, IL, 60439, USA

5 Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, 5640 South Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60637, USA

6 The Josephine Bay Paul Center for Comparative Molecular Biology and Evolution, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA, 02543, USA

7 Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Maclean Building, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8BB, UK

8 Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford, 7 Keble Road, Oxford, OX1 3QG, UK

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GigaScience 2012, 1:5  doi:10.1186/2047-217X-1-5

Published: 12 July 2012

Abstract

We are entering a new era in genomics–that of large-scale, place-based, highly contextualized genomic research. Here we review this emerging paradigm shift and suggest that sites of utmost scientific importance be expanded into ‘Genomic Observatories’ (GOs). Investment in GOs should focus on the digital characterization of whole ecosystems, from all-taxa biotic inventories to time-series ’omics studies. The foundational layer of biodiversity–genetic variation–would thus be mainstreamed into Earth Observation systems enabling predictive modelling of biodiversity dynamics and resultant impacts on ecosystem services.

Keywords:
Ecogenomics; Earth observation; Biodiversity; Ecosystems; Biocode; Genomic observatory; DNA