Hidden within Australia's biodiversity are genetic resources to enhance crops, new materials for manufacturing and insights into biological processes that can give industries an edge. Our Environomics Future Science Platform is providing the technology to both benefit from and care for biodiversity.
A rich and beautiful heritage
Australia is a mega-diverse continent, home to more than half a million species ranging from the tiny microbes that you can't see to our iconic marsupials. Eighty per cent of our species are found nowhere else on earth, delivered to us by 30 million years of evolutionary engineering.
Our biodiversity is beautiful to behold and a major tourist drawcard. It builds resilience in ecosystems, pollinates our crops and gives us clean air and water, healthy agricultural lands and protection from pests and diseases. Biodiversity is also a rich and unique resource for innovation, science and industry:
- Biodiversity is the basis of important primary production systems such as our marine fisheries and hardwood forestry, worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
- It provides a rich source of genetic resources for crop breeding programs such as cotton, soybean and macadamias, all of which have centres of evolutionary diversity in Australia.
- It offers opportunities for developing new industries, as a source of novel materials, processes and products such as algal oils and biofuels.
- Biodiversity is appreciated by Australians and international visitors. It supports Australia's tourism industry, just by being there.
Understanding, managing and protecting biodiversity is one of humanity's most important challenges.
Our Future Science Platform
Environomics, short for environmental genomics, is a technology platform to see beyond the landscape to its genescape, to reveal and make use of its genetic resources.
For the first time, we can rapidly and inexpensively view and understand the function of entire genomes belonging to wild animals, plants and microbes. Often we can do this for multiple organisms simultaneously and without even seeing or capturing them.
With this new way of observing nature we can:
- quickly and accurately identify species
- measure the stresses they experience
- identify novel functions they perform within ecosystems.
The Environomics Future Science Platform (FSP) will explore these and other emerging applications of genomics to environmental science.
Visit our Environomics FSP site to learn more about our research projects.
Environomics Future Science Platform Leader
Dr Olly Berry
Senior Research Scientist (NATL COLLECTIONS & MARINE INFRASTRUCTURE)
Our partners include Bioplatforms Australia, Atlas of Living Australia, Integrated Marine Observing System and Australian National University, along with international collaboration networks such as 1000 Insects Transcriptomes Project, 10 000 Bird Genomes Project, and the Earth Microbiome Project.