It’s more than stamp collecting: how genome sequencing can unify biological research.

The availability of reference genome sequences, especially the human reference, has revolutionized the study of biology. However, while the genomes of some species have been fully sequenced, a wide range of biological problems still cannot be effectively studied for lack of genome sequence information. Here, I identify neglected areas of biology and describe how both targeted species sequencing and more broad taxonomic surveys of the tree of life can address important biological questions. I enumerate the significant benefits that would accrue from sequencing a broader range of taxa, as well as discuss the technical advances in sequencing and assembly methods that would allow for wide-ranging application of whole-genome analysis. Finally, I suggest that in addition to ‘big science’ survey initiatives to sequence the tree of life, a modified infrastructure-funding paradigm would better support reference genome sequence generation for research communities most in need.

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