NEON-EMP meeting (Boulder Colorado, USA, November 2011)

The Earth Microbiome Project has an ambitious aim, to characterize the diversity of microbial life on Earth. The project is founded on a central tenant, that open data generation and data sharing improves analytical capability and generates more results and understanding. The EMP aims to create one of the largest comparable microbial ecology datasets ever created. To do this, a consensus framework has been generated within which individual researchers and communities can function to enable cooperation and coordination of metagenomic sequence data generation. NEON is one such community, which has already agreed to promote the use of the EMP standard protocols in the generation of sequencing data from its terrestrial monitoring stations. The aim of this meeting is to understand how the EMP can help to integrate existing sampling, processing and cyber infrastructure efforts within NEON to enable a smooth transition to effective and efficient data generation. The fundamental aim is to outline the most appropriate route forward to creating comparable datasets from across the NEON network, which will ultimately be comparable with the myriad of other EMP-associated networks around the world.

1st International EMP Conference (Shenzhen, China, June 2011)

The 1st International EMP Conference was an open meeting with over 100 attendees. There were 8 invited guest speakers, including Rick Stevens (Argonne National Laboratory and University of Chicago) who gave the keynote on the morning of the first day. In addition we had 22 offered talks with presenters from 8 nations, including China, USA, Germany, France, New Zealand, Australia, Spain, etc. The meeting was loosely divided into two themes. The theme for Day 1 was microbial ecology, which focused on why we need the EMP, tools and models for the EMP, some preliminary data from the pilot study, and a number of exciting case studies from EMP collaborators. The theme for Day 2 was standards and bioinformatic techniques, which included novel data analysis tools, standard data acquisition, and some considerations from previous or existing massive sequencing projects, including Terragenome, The Microbial Earth project, The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Virus Sequencing Project, and Meta-HIT. Gilbert et al. 2011. The Earth Microbiome Project: The Meeting Report for the 1st International Earth Microbiome Project Conference, Shenzhen, China, June 13th-15th 2011. Standards in Genomic Science. 5(2).

EMP Workshop on Sample Acquisition (Chicago, USA, October 2010)

The second workshop was held at Argonne National Laboratory on October 6th 2010. The workshop was chaired by Rob Knight (University of Colorado, Boulder), and we explored how we would collect samples and what metadata should be collected. The report from this workshop was also published in Standards in Genomic Science (Gilbert et al. 2010. The Earth Microbiome Project: Meeting report of the 1st EMP meeting on sample selection and acquisition at Argonne National Laboratory October 6th 2010. Standards in Genomic Science. 3:3)

Terabase Metagenomics Workshop and the Vision of an Earth Microbiome Project (Salt Lake City, USA, July, 2010)

The EMP was first concieved at an ICiS workshop held on 17 to 24 July 2010 in Snowbird, Utah. The workshop was chaired by Rick Stevens and Folker Meyer (Argonne National Laboratory), and Jack A Gilbert (then of Plymouth Marine Laboratory; now of Argonne National Laboratory), and was aimed at determining how to use massive sequencing capacity to explore microbial communities. This report from this first workshop has been published in Standards in Genomic Science (Gilbert et al.  2010.Meeting Report. The Terabase Metagenomics Workshop and the Vision of an Earth Microbiome Project. Standards in Genomic Science. 3:3.)