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Bringing Africa’s Bio-diversity to the Fore

There’s a large gap in genomics research: barely anything is known about the genomics of African species. This is despite the continent’s rich biological diversity. It has plants and animals that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. African species have been neglected by the global genomic community. Scientists tend to focus on their own regions or countries. Africa’s own genome sequencing and bioinformatics capacity is limited, so the continent’s scientists haven’t been able to do the necessary work. To date only a fraction of species endemic or indigenous to the continent have been properly sequenced and adequately characterised using other scientific methods. The African BioGenome Project (AfricaBP) wants to change this. It’s a pan-African project that seeks to sequence Africa’s endemic and indigenous plants and animals. That’s an estimated 105,000 species. We are three of the more than 109 African scientists involved in the project and recently published a position paper in Nature outlining the consortium’s vision for the next 10 years.