Native Genome Project

Rod Wing, Salim Al-Babili, Ikram Blilou and Heribert Hirt

To biologically characterize ecosystems that are relevant for functional desert ecosystems, essential data as to how and why a particular ecosystem operates in a particular environment are necessary. Such data are proposed to be used subsequently to engineer large scale ecosystems that are sustainable and will positively influence vegetation cover and the fight again desertification.

This is a “pilot project” and will establish a robust pipeline/infrastructure to characterize 100s-1000s of different ecosystems in hyperarid regions, both terrestrial and aquatic.

Vouchering and plant genome sequencing (Wing), Microbiome sampling and analysis (Hirt), Metabolomics sampling and analysis (Al-Babili) and Root development/architecture analysis (Blilou) will establish a robust pipeline and collaborative network to interrogate diverse terrestrial ecosystems, the information of which can used to understand how ecosystems thrive in extreme environments. Such knowledge can be applied to the engineering of large scale ecosystems that promote much needed vegetation cover, to combat desertification, and to promote sustainable agricultural practices throughout the KSA.

Not only will this project produce high-quality ecosystem data sets, it will also train the next generation of ecosystem scientists that will use their skills to create and manage sustainable ecosystems in natural, agricultural and urban settings.