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New German Center to Study Genomics of Biodiversity With €17.6M in State Funding

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The German federal state of Hesse is funding a new center to study the genomics of biodiversity with €17.6 million ($20 million) over four years, the state ministry for science and the arts said last week.

The funding, which will commence in 2018, is part of a €66.5 million round under a grant program called LOEWE that supports the development of scientific and economic excellence in the state of Hesse.

The new center, called TBG – Translational Genomics of Biodiversity, will be located in Frankfurt and coordinated by the Senckenberg Nature Research Society (SGN) in collaboration with Goethe University Frankfurt, the University of Giessen, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology.

It will combine research into the genomes of a variety of organisms with the development of services and products, and will collaborate with institutions in the state that focus on research into natural products.

According to Axel Janke — a professor of evolutionary genetics at the Senckenberg Society and at Goethe University Frankfurt and the director of the new center — the plan is to sequence more than 1,000 genomes per year, including exotic animal species such as hairybacks, arrow worms, oomycetes, isopods, snails, and a species of ground beetle that expels an explosive liquid when attacked.

In addition, the center plans to sequence 100 genomes at high resolution and to submit the genome data to public databases as part of the Senckenberg Biodiversity Genome Collection.

"This knowledge will help us to make better use of the economic potential of living organisms," Janke said in a statement. "We will study which natural products can be extracted from toxic animals and parasites for use in biomedicine or as a bioresource."

Further, the project aims to improve the analysis of environmental DNA (eDNA) in order to improve nature and species conservation and to find new approaches for environmental monitoring.