What is the Ira Moana Project?
The Ira Moana Project is enabling a collaborative network of scientists to deliver a searchable metadatabase for our genetic and genomic data – from old and next-generation sequencing techniques, for terrestrial and marine critters, as well as environmental samples.
The metadatabase aims to ensure the kaitiakitanga of our data, linking sequences with sample information – such as location, habitat, and date of sampling events – creating opportunities for data synthesis, data re-use, and better data sovereignty. The Ira Moana metadatabase structure is based on the latest international standards for biodiversity and genomic data. Our approach builds on the success of the Diversity of the Indo-Pacific Network (DIPnet) – the largest population genetic/genomic database in the world – and uses the infrastructure provided by the Genomics Observatory Metadatabase (GEOME) – purpose-built to capture the metadata associated with biological samples.
Why do we need the Ira Moana Project?
The Ira Moana Project is founded in concern for our biodiversity. Nationally, and as a global citizen, we are under increasing pressure to make informed decisions regarding commercial and recreational activities, and how they can be balanced with the protection of our ecosystems. Such decisions of environmental, economic, and societal impact need to be transparent and based on robust information, including knowledge about biodiversity that stretches from ecosystems to genes.
For decades New Zealand scientists have been collecting DNA samples and genetic data for hundreds of species, informing population management and biodiversity assessments. Synthetic analyses of these data, however, are not yet possible because there has been no concerted effort toward the curation and stewardship of metadata. While funding agencies and publishers advocate deposition of genetic data in open-access repositories, they do not require the deposition of standardised metadata. The Ira Moana Project is addressing the metadata gap.
Join the Ira Moana Project
The Ira Moana Project Team are always looking for new network members who are committed to uploading metadata associated with genetic data, or want to make other contributions to the Project. For more information visit the Ira Moana website.