Wellcome Sanger Institute, Genome Research Limited
Darwin Tree of Life Project

Darwin Tree of Life Project

The Darwin Tree of Life Project, led by the Wellcome Sanger Institute, plans to read the genomes of all known species of animals, plants, fungi and protists in the British Isles

About the Darwin Tree of Life Project

The Earth is experiencing the “sixth great extinction”, an event that threatens the biodiversity upon which human society depends. As part of global initiatives to use genomics to reveal and understand biodiversity, and thus contribute to conservation and mitigation of the effects of catastrophic change, genome sequencing the Sanger Institute has initiated its Tree of Life programme.

The Tree of Life programme at the Sanger Institute is collaborating with the Natural History Museum London, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, The Marine Biological Association, The Earlham Institute, The University of Oxford and its Wytham Woods field station, The University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh Genomics, The University of Cambridge, EMBL-EBI and others to sequence to high qualty the genomes of all eukaryotic species in the British Isles.

Together we will collect and identify samples, extract and sequence DNA and RNA, and assemble and annotate the genomes of the aproximately 60,000 species with which we share these islands. We will make the data openly available for reuse in biological research, conservation, biotechnology and beyond.

The project is currently funded through the Sanger Institute core programme budget, and a recent major Wellcome Trust Discretionary Award to the DToL partnership. In planning for over two years, the first 30-month Phase I of Darwin project will start in earnest in November 2019.


If you need help or have any queries, please contact us using the details below.

Sanger people

Photo of Professor Mark Blaxter

Professor Mark Blaxter

Programme Lead for Tree of Life Programme and Senior Group Leader

Photo of Dr Mara Lawniczak

Dr Mara Lawniczak

Group Leader

Photo of Dr Richard Durbin

Dr Richard Durbin

Associate Faculty

Photo of Dr Kerstin Howe

Dr Kerstin Howe

Senior Scientific Manager

Photo of Dr Matt Berriman

Dr Matt Berriman

Senior Group Leader

Photo of Dr Shane A. McCarthy

Dr Shane A. McCarthy

Senior Scientific Manager

Affiliated Sites

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Ensembl Rapid Release will include annotation of the latest genome assemblies from projects such as @darwintreelife, @EBPgenome, the @genomeark as well as hundreds of research groups and communities around the world