Skip to main content
Start main content


21 May 2024

HKU Ecologist Contributes to Pioneering Earth BioGenome Project Hong Kong

    Professor Juan Diego GAITÁN-ESPITIA from the School of Biological Science has joined forces with researchers from all eight UGC-funded universities in the community to embark on the Earth BioGenome Project Hong Kong. This collaborative initiative addresses geographic and species gaps in the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP), a global ‘moonshot for biology’ that aims to sequence, catalog, and characterise the genomes of the Earth’s non-microbial eukaryotic  biodiversity within a decade.

    Highlighting Hong Kong's exceptional status as a biodiversity hotspot, the project features thousands of species across various taxa, with a particular focus on the organisms of high concern and great interest to Hong Kong. The local community was invited to nominate animal, plant, and fungi species that captivated their attention.

    The initial batch of genomes selected for study has been published in a Hong Kong-based journal GigaByte. Among the featured species are the golden birdwing butterfly (Troides aeacus), the common chiton (Liolophura japonic), the long-spined sea urchin (Diadema setosum), the edible jelly fungus Dacryopinax spathularia, and the milky mangrove (Excoecaria agallocha). These species were chosen due to their significant scientific and conservation value in the Asia-Pacific region. The ongoing genome study of other emblematic and well-loved local species, such as the black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor), is still in progress.

    Thanks to the contributions of Professor Gaitán-Espitia and other dedicated academics, the Earth BioGenome Project Hong Kong not only enhances our understanding of Hong Kong's unique biodiversity but also provides valuable insights for global conservation efforts.