The GEBA Pilot Project
To test the feasibility of the GEBA approach, JGI is undertaking a pilot project in collaboration with DSMZ to sequence 100 bacterial and archaeal genomes based on the phylogenetic positions of organisms in the tree of life. The organism selection process for the pilot project is being based on a combination of objective analysis of the rRNA tree of life and consultation with a scientific advisory board. All genome sequence data will be released to the community through the JGI web site and Genbank. In addition, the JGI is building tools to enable undergraduates to participate in the manual annotation of the GEBA genomes.
The long-term goal of the GEBA project would be to generate reference genomes for every major and minor group of bacteria and archaea. This could represent something on the order of 5,000 genomes. This amount of sequencing is not beyond the capabilities of the current capacity of major genome sequencing centers. However, though the sequencing itself is within current capacities, there are management and quality control issues associated with carrying out such a project, such as growth, DNA isolation, library construction, etc. The shear number of genomes presents unique challenges. This pilot project will allow JGI to determine which issues will require attention and how best to proceed with the larger project.