GEBA Project: “Beyond Darwin’s Wildest Dreams”

Recently, Eisen and his colleagues unveiled a pilot project that they hope will help the community make the most of existing microbial genome data with a phylogeny-driven resource called the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea at the Joint Genome Institute. Currently available genomic resources for microbes are from a very narrow phylogenetic distribution of organisms, so the GEBA team has endeavored to create a project that goes through the evolutionary tree of bacteria and archaea to identify lineages for which there are no genomes available and that could be easily cultured in the lab. “We’re going to do about 200 genomes in this pilot — but in the long run do 1,000 genomes — to basically fill in the ‘dark matter’ of the biological universe,” Eisen says. “There is a benefit that comes from selecting phylogenetically novel organisms. 
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