Mission Launching 2020

We share earth with at least 10 million species of multicellular organisms, a legacy of life now at risk because of global change. Morphological study has documented nearly two million of these species, but this has required more than 200 years. The Planetary Biodiversity Mission will speed completion, registering all multicellular species before the midst of this century by employing sequence variation in short gene regions for their discrimination. Because this approach draws strength from two evolving technologies, DNA sequencing and computational capacity, it will deliver an ever-accelerating capacity to know life. Aside from automating specimen identification and species discovery, DNA-based analysis will allow planetary biosurveillance in near real-time. These activities will be coupled with the genesis of an indexed repository of DNA extracts, a library of life available for genomic analysis. Registering species, reading biodiversity, curating genomes; these are the goals of the Planetary Biodiversity Mission. It's a one-time opportunity that will revolutionize understanding of life.

Project Scale Up (2015-2025): $100 M 10 M specimens + 1K Sites analyzed

Will provide the means to produce a comprehensive picture of multi-cellular biodiversity on a global scale.

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An inventory of all terrestrial life

Within one generation

The Planetary Biodiversity Mission will deliver three solutions critical to advancing our understanding of and protection of the multi-cellular life on our planet

Global Biosurveillance System

Reference sequences will enable bulk samples to be characterized for their species composition, allowing species distributions to be mapped at a spatial and temporal resolution that was previously impossible.

Library of Life

The development of a comprehensive DNA-based identification system will involve the individual analysis of more than 100 million specimens by 2045. The resulting DNA extracts will be curated in centralized facilities where they will be available for genomic analysis.

Unified Model of Biodiversity

By shifting the focus of biodiversity science from morphology to molecules, the PBM will reveal principles that operate across the kingdoms of life. It will act as a framework for cohesion and collaboration amongst disciplines that have traditionally had weak interactions.


The Mission requires funding for 4 major initiatives.


Cutting edge sequencing and liquid handling instrumentation allows for the processing of millions of samples a year.


Support for the storage and analysis of large data and sequence analysis, transformations, and visualizations.


Employs high-throughput methods to gather DNA barcodes from vast numbers of specimens with various levels of DNA preservation.

Specimen Curation

Carrying out field collection, sample preparation, and long term storage of all specimens destined for genomic analysis.

Participants & Partners

Organizations in PBM either participate in development, data collection and management or partner on data dissemination, fundraising and policy advancement.

Mission Leaders

PBM is led by distinguished scientists in the field of biodiversity science.

Global Community

The Planetary Biodiversity Mission will be carried out by the international research community, with each nation making varying levels of investment. This community was loosely formed in 2005 and has met every two years since with formalization of an alliance under the iBOL project.