The Ocean Biomolecular Observing Network (OBON) is an endorsed programme of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
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Virtual side event at UN Ocean Conference
Please join our Virtual Side Event during the UN Ocean Conference: 30 June, 6pm (Lisbon). The panel will discuss how biomolecular research can enable broadscale science-based conservation and sustainable development.

Full details: (please note that sign up for the side event is via Zoom and it is therefore set to 'unavailable' on Eventbrite)

#UNOC2022 #unoceandecade

Organising Partners:

Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean (POGO); Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA; Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), USA; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), USA; Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Italy; Marine Biological Association, UK; AtlantECO (EU project); Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany


While real-time data acquisition tools exist for physical and chemical ocean parameters at global scale, there is no equivalent unified global surveillance of life in the ocean. Biological observations at appropriate phylogenetic, temporal and spatial scales are necessary to understand the impacts of ocean health decline and ensure sustainable development. We will, through the global network that the UN Decade-endorsed programme Ocean Biomolecular Observing Network (OBON) is striving to develop, address knowledge gaps with finer-scale biological observations from methodologies based on the DNA blueprint, universal to life on Earth. Several recent demonstrations have validated biomolecular methodologies for fisheries management, conservation (e.g., threatened species, marine protected area design), aquaculture, biogeography and exploration, while enabling fast and inexpensive infectious disease analyses. Our vision, a global marine life surveillance program, builds on successes of these and other biomolecular research programs, enabling broadscale science-based sustainable development.

OBON will be inviting a number of relevant projects to give a brief overview of how biomolecular observations are being used to develop our understanding of the world’s ocean ecosystems and support their conservation and management.

Side Event Programme:

18.00-18.05 Introduction to OBON by Margaret Leinen

18.05-18.10 Atlantic Ecosystem Assessment by Daniele Iudicone

18.10-18.15 European Marine Omics Biodiversity by Nicolas Pade

18.15-18.20 WCO Biomolecular Observing Network by Willie Wilson

18.20-18.25 Naples Ecological Research Augmented Observatory by Raffaella Casotti

18.25-18.30 Pacific eDNA Coastal Observatory by Jennifer Sunday

18.30-18.35 Scripps Ecological Observatory by Jeff Bowman

18.35-18.40 Hakai Institute Biomolecular Observing Network by Colleen Kellogg/ Matt Lemay

18.40-18.45 Better Biomolecular Ocean Practices by Kathleen Pitz

18.45-18.50 Observing and Promoting Atlantic Microbiomes by Alice Ortmann

18.50-18.55 DNA-based approaches for fisheries by Filipe Costa

18.55-19.00 OBON data strategy by Raïssa Meyer/ Pier Luigi Buttigieg

19.00-19.25 Discussion

19:25-19:30 Wrap up.

After the brief overviews from these projects, the discussion will focus on how the projects could work together within the framework of OBON, particularly in terms of engagement with stakeholders and potential users of biomolecular data.

Sign up via Zoom or scan the QR code below, we look forward to seeing you there.

Newly endorsed projects
The OBON interim Scientific Advisory Board received 11 new proposals for endorsement as OBON projects as part of the UN Ocean Decade 2nd call for proposals. The projects ranged in scale from regional to global initiatives and covered a variety of issues, including data generation and sharing, capacity development, information sharing and using biomolecular data to track fisheries.

While some of these projects are still undergoing further review, we now have received confirmation from the UN Ocean Decade that the following projects have been endorsed:
WCO Biomolecular Observing Network
Better Biomolecular Ocean Practices
The Western Channel Observatory – Biomolecular Observing Network (WCO BON) will build on the successes of over a century of continuous biological observations (including 20 years of DNA sampling) by combining with innovative autonomous solutions for sampling, data capture and development of predictive capability through biological digital twins. The observatory covers almost 1,000 km2 of coastal ocean in the Western English Channel adjacent to the city of Plymouth; home to three world-leading marine research organisations. Biomolecular observations will help map key biodiversity knowledge through temporal and spatial monitoring, with the bigger challenge of determining the biological functional capacity of this immense evolving marine genomic reservoir. Our ambition is to achieve integrated global biomolecular observations and data sharing through networks of excellence and capacity development. Its predictive capability will ultimately revolutionise sustainable ocean management.
Methodological information is essential to understand the biomolecular data it generates (its limitations, strengths, and the ability to integrate and compare it with other datasets). However, in the biomolecular community, this information is often buried in publications that lack sufficient detail and are neither machine readable nor actionable. Within the IOC-UNESCO OBPS system, we have started an effort to exhume and empower these critical information artifacts. Under OBON, we propose building upon and expanding those efforts into a project for the digitisation of omics protocols from long-term observatories around the world using machine-readable templates and metadata. This will leverage and advance activities to develop protocol templates and metadata specifications, while working with strategic OBON partners in ocean observing and contributing to OBON’s aims for capacity sharing and inter-programme coordination (OBON - OceanPractices).
Naples Ecological REsearch Augmented Observatory
Hakai Institute Biomolecular Observing Network
The Naples Ecological REsearch Augmented Observatory (NEREA,; is an initiative for integrating and augmenting the Marechiara LTER (Long Term Ecological Research, active since 1983) in the Gulf of Naples with moorings, stand-alone seabed platform, regular short cruises across gradients (polluted vs pristine sites, vertical dimension, oligotrophy/eutrophic) and question-driven process studies, using both innovative (genomics, imaging- both HD and acoustic cameras, microplastics sampling) and traditional techniques (including trace elements analyses).

The NEREA project is thus designed to promote and to apply multidisciplinary approaches, from the sampling strategy, to the development of new indicators for ocean health and of new models of the ocean microbiomes.
HI-BON is a highly coordinated network of partners across British Columbia, Canada who are using long-term genetic-based assessments of marine biodiversity to create baselines, track changes through time, and provide local-scale biodiversity data in remote areas. The taxonomic focus of this research is broad, with core initiatives quantifying the diversity of fish, invertebrates, and microbes. Biomolecular sampling began at the Hakai Institute in November 2014 and has now grown to a large-network of over 20 partners collecting monthly samples across the BC coast. Our network emphasizes: 1. Standardization of biomolecular monitoring approaches in BC, with the goal to align with global OBON standards. 2. Building capacity by developing community partnerships to enhance spatial and temporal coverage. 3. Open data and contribution to a broad coalition of partners across regional and global communities (i.e. GOOS) to assist in conservation and sustainable management of BC waters and beyond.
OBON is looking forward to working together with these projects.
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