Oxford Nanopore’s ORG.one hits milestone, announces new focus on endangered species

ORG.one is moving out of pilot phase and expanding its efforts to include sequencing for endangered species, in collaboration with New England Biolabs.

Oxford Nanopore Technologies (Oxford Nanopore), a global leader in genomic sequencing, today announced a major milestone for its ORG.one project, successfully finalising 90 completed reference genomes of critically endangered species as it moves out of its pilot phase. This dataset, which significantly enriches the European Nucleotide Archive, encompasses a diverse array of life including 60 animals, 2 fungi, and 26 plants, contributing vital insights for biodiversity conservation.

“The effort to provide genomic information for endangered species has been greatly hindered by resource availability. The ORG.one effort bridges the gap between conservation biologists and genomicists by providing much needed support that facilitates long read-based genome assembly,” said Professor Rachel O’Neill, Director of the Institute for Systems Genomics and the Centre for Genome Innovation at the University of Connecticut. “These efforts will have a major impact on advancements in developing conservation management strategies for the startling number of endangered species on Earth. As a dedicated sequencing partner of ORG.one, we are committed to their contributions to the preservation of global biodiversity reinforced by genomic sequencing.”

Launched as a pilot in 2021, ORG.one has already supported the sequencing of a number of critically endangered species, including spoon-billed sandpiper, the Brazilian Jararaca-de-Vitória snake, and Ecuador’s brown-headed spider monkey. Building on this success, ORG.one is expanding its mission to include a wider range of endangered species, aligning closely with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List. This strategic shift enhances support for conservation efforts towards species under the most severe threat categories: Endangered, Critically Endangered, and Extinct in the Wild.

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“We are excited that the genomes of 90 critically endangered species have been sequenced so far through ORG.one and made available for open access,” said Clive Brown, Chief Technology, Innovation and Product Officer at Oxford Nanopore. “ORG.one was founded on the belief that accessible, portable sequencing is key to supporting critically endangered species by allowing researchers to generate high-quality data, faster and close to the sample’s origin, enabling countries to control their local resources. Expanding this project to now focus on endangered species will further broaden our impact and help us continue to address urgent global biodiversity challenges. Our technology and collaborations are setting new standards in the conservation field, and as always, to anyone working to support a particular endangered species, we want to work with you.”

In partnership with New England Biolabs (NEB), ORG.one is enhancing its capabilities to support researchers by providing them with essential sequencing reagents and kits at no cost. This collaboration underscores Oxford Nanopore's and New England Biolabs’ commitment to reducing barriers to accessing genetic data through faster, more equitable, and localised access and maximising the impact of our technologies in the field of conservation.

“For 50 years, environmental stewardship and conservation of the natural world has been a driving principle for NEB that continues to this day”, said Tom Evans, Executive Director of Research at NEB. “Over 44,000 species currently face extinction and high quality-genomic resources are critical for enabling conservation strategies. Responding to this urgent need, our collaboration with Oxford Nanopore and ORG.one will empower researchers and provide targeted support where it is needed most.”

We encourage researchers and conservationists working with endangered species to join this initiative. To participate in ORG.one and help drive global conservation efforts, please register your interest at https://nanoporetech.com/oo