unique in nature and vast in scope — truly Canadian
Conserving Canada's Genomic Diversity
American beaver (Castor canadensis)

Advancing conservation and maintaining biodiversity

Canada’s natural wealth is the envy of the world. From coast to coast to coast—the Arctic to the Rockies, the prairies to the Great Lakes—the True North is home to vast assortment of species found nowhere else on Earth. The Canada BioGenome Project is tapping the power of genome science to better understand and conserve this great natural heritage.

An international consortium

The Canada BioGenome project is part of an international consortium—the Earth BioGenome Project—which aims to sequence the genomes of all the eukaryotic biodiversity.

Driven by genome science

Powerful advances in genome sequencing technology, bioinformatics, computer automation and machine learning have revolutionized human understanding of biology by enabling scientists to scrutinize, compare and catalogue DNA—the molecular basis of life.

Inderdisciplinary by design

The Canada BioGenome Project is led by experts who have contributed significantly to the field of wildlife conservation through genome sequencing and assembly of important Canadian species, development of genomic priorities and policies and research with many diverse applications.

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Sequencing the genomes of Canada's plants and animals is a massive proposition that requires significant scientific collaboration—one with enormous benefits not only for better understanding the evolution of life itself but in uncovering fundamental principles of health and disease, for individuals and populations.

Dr. Steven Jones, Co-Lead Investigator for the Canada BioGenome Project

Discover, restore and preserve

The Canada BioGenome Project will embark on the task of determining the complete genetic diversity of Canada's plants and animals through genomic sequencing.


Identify species of specific relevance to Canada with collaboration with important stakeholders.

Generate the first comprehensive set of quality reference specifically targeting Canadian species.

Develop genomic information and bioinformatic tools to inform policy, conservation and monitoring.


Represent Canada within the Earth BioGenome Project, harmonizing sequencing strategies.

Demonstrate how genomics can aid conservation, biodiversity, restoration and species monitoring.

Musk ox (Ovibos moschatus)

Our mission

The Canada BioGenome Project aims to make available 400 high quality reference genomes for Canadian species that represent a diverse domain of life. Through collaborations with species experts and end users, we will ensure that species selected are based on criteria including their need for conservation and remediation, and their economic and socio-cultural relevance. Species whose environmental niche will be negatively affected by climate change and where we might expect a species collapse will also be prioritized.
Our GE3LS (Genomic, Ethical, Environmental, Economic, Legal, Social) program ensures that priority species will be studied and that robust policy recommendations for responsible use of genomics will be developed. Throughout, focus will be placed on species in the sub-Arctic and Arctic where climate change is already having a profound impact on wildlife and vegetation. The resultant genomes will be freely available, and we will populate the database being developed to store and provide easy access to geospatial information and metadata on the samples to non-expert parties.


at risk species

High-quality genomes have been shown to be the basis for understanding historical demography and current population structure, minimizing inbreeding, maximizing adaptive potential and identifying the basis of important phenotypic traits.

ex situ management

Generating reference genomes for species management in artificial environments, away from endemic locations, (such as in zoos) serves as an invaluable resource to address knowledge gaps regarding local adaptation of Canadian populations, tracking of levels of diversity over time and for pairing purposes.

economic opportunities

Many of the tools needed to track, monitor and protect economically valuable species in the wild require knowledge of genetic make-up and diversity.

Common loon (Gavia immer)


400 complete genomes of Canadian species relevant to in situ and ex situ conservation planning, biodiversity and economy.

A national geospatial database of freely available and easily accessible metadata genomic information that is linked to the genome sequences and to GE3LS outcomes.

Policies on how to responsibly implement the use of genomics in areas of wildlife conservations and management, in different regions of the country and in different cultural context.

Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)

Declining Biodiversity, Management, Human Well-being

Canada possesses significant biodiversity, with ~80,000 plant and animal species in environments ranging from desert to the arctic. Many of these species are under threat due to rapid changes in climate and other human-led impacts on our environment.

The 2015 federal Wild Species report, which assessed ~27,500 Canadian species, identified ~6 per cent (1,659 species) as “May Be at Risk” in Canada

As of 2017-18, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada’s (COSEWIC) assessments included 771 wildlife species in various risk categories; 18 assessed as extinct.

Assessments by Indigenous Peoples in Canada also reflect systemic change— Inuit report declining abundance, health and populations in several species.