Establishing an Australian Reference Genome Atlas and Leadership Application in Bushfire Data

Building the Australian Reference Genome Atlas (ARGA), a service empowering Australia’s researchers to discover, select and access genomics data and resources to answer biological questions in relation to bushfires and more
A beetle on the branch of a plant burnt in a bushfire
Who will benefit
Researchers and industry in agriculture and biodiversity

The Challenge

Genomic data of some species is publicly available but stored in a multitude of largely disconnected online databases, and only parts are known to people. Data for many species is being actively generated, and a significant amount is stored in herbaria, museums and other organisational repositories that have limited discoverability. 

To realise the vision where genomic breeding approaches are applied widely across agriculture and conservation, data from as many Australian-relevant species as possible needs to be findable and combinable for subsequent analyses.

The Approach

The overall goal of the project was to establish the critical infrastructure to make genomics data available and discoverable. For genomic approaches to be applied widely across agriculture and biodiversity in Australia, this infrastructure needs to: 

  • locate and aggregate descriptions of all relevant genomic data in one place
  • enable searching across these data based on a variety of contextual aspects around the organism, functional classification, geographical location and altitude
  • enable comparative analysis of genomic data from organisms that have been selected based on the taxonomic or functional classifications. 

To this end, the project has established the Australian Reference Genome Atlas (ARGA) platform.

The Outcomes

Genetic information has a substantial impact on improving conservation outcomes by providing answers to important questions on species populations recovery and rebound after major catastrophic events. 

ARGA will locate and aggregate descriptions of all relevant genomic data – such as genome assemblies, genome annotations, barcodes, raw data and other omic data – to create tools that allow conservation managers to protect species and their genetic diversity. These tools will enable searching across these genomic data based on a variety of contextual aspects around the organism, such as: 

  • taxonomic grouping
  • functional classifications (e.g. fire tolerance, drought, salt, conservation status)
  • geographical location.

Use the Australian Reference Genome Atlas (ARGA).

Who Will Benefit

Conservation practitoners

Conservation practitioners need to quickly and easily leverage genomic information to tackle critical biological and conservation issues caused by extreme events. ARGA will provide this critical infrastructure, containing readily available genetics information to improve biodiversity conservation outcomes.

Research and development in comparative genomics

ARGA will enable these researchers to compare the sequences of genomes of different organisms to understand differences and evolutionary changes and apply that knowledge in agricultural and conservation contexts.

The Partners

  • Atlas of Living Australia (ALA)
  • BioPlatforms Australia
  • Australian BioCommons

Further Resources

Contact the ARDC

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.