Darwin Tree of Life

The Darwin Tree of Life project aims to sequence the genomes of 70,000 species of eukaryotic organisms in Britain and Ireland. 

It is a collaboration between biodiversity, genomics and analysis partners that is transforming the way we do biology, conservation and biotechnology.

What we do

We use genomic data to understand the evolution of the diversity of life, to explore the biology of organisms and ecosystems, to aid conservation efforts and to provide new tools for medicine and biotechnology. The Darwin Tree of Life Project is one of several initiatives across the globe working towards the ultimate goal of sequencing all complex life on Earth, in a venture known as the Earth BioGenome Project. We are focussing on the organisms that live in and around Britain and Ireland because they constitute what is probably the best known and most deeply studied biota in the world, explored during centuries of observation and research.

Our Approach

All life is linked through the common thread of the DNA sequence of their genomes. The Darwin Tree of Life project will carefully collect representatives of each species, use advanced DNA sequencing technologies to generate high quality genome sequences, and cutting edge computational tools to understand how the DNA sequence translates into the diversity of life. We will sequence animals, plants, fungi and protists, and release the data openly for all to use.

In our first, two-year phase we will sequence the genomes of 2000 species to build the skills needed to complete our task, to generate reference genomes for about one third of the families of organisms present in Britain and Ireland, and to prove the utility of these genomes for research and applied goals.

Image: Rich Wright, RBG Kew




Darwin Tree of Life
Wellcome Sanger Institute
Wellcome Genome Campus
CB10 1SA



Darwin Tree of Life Collaborators and Partners

See the Wellcome Sanger Institute press release

Sanger Institute News