BioQuest Aims To Help Biodiversity Conservation

November 28, 2023 | 1 Comment

BioQuest, powered by CariGenetics, officially launched on the 25th of November, marking a “significant step forward in Bermuda’s biodiversity conservation efforts.”

A spokesperson said, “BioQuest is a new, innovative philanthropic NGO focused on biodiversity conservation using genomics, starting with Bermuda’s signature species, with an aim to create local genetic research capacity.

“The launch event, attended by a select group of enthusiasts, experts, and potential funders, featured insightful presentations by Dr Carika Weldon, Founder and CEO of CariGenetics, and Mr Jean-Pierre Rouja, the newly appointed Director of BioQuest.”

Dr Weldon, in her address, expressed her enthusiasm for the new venture, “The launch of BioQuest is a pivotal moment for us at CariGenetics. It represents our commitment to extending our research beyond human genetics to the rich biodiversity and conservation efforts of Bermuda. I am thrilled to introduce Jean-Pierre Rouja as the Director of BioQuest. His expertise and passion for conservation technology, and experience working with many of the target species, make him the ideal leader to steer BioQuest towards impactful achievements in biodiversity genomic research.”

The spokesperson said, “BioQuest’s mission is to conduct conservation genomic research on flora and fauna, supporting the preservation of these species. The organisation has already embarked on significant projects, including studies on the Bermuda Cahow and Bermuda’s coral reef systems. The launch of BioQuest as an NGO will enable the continuation and expansion of such vital work, with a strong focus on ensuring the ability to do all stages of genetic research in Bermuda for full sample and data autonomy.”

Jean-Pierre Rouja, in his statement, shared his excitement and the importance of BioQuest’s mission, “I am deeply honoured to lead BioQuest and contribute to the vital conservation efforts in Bermuda. Our new projects we launched on Saturday, like the Bermuda Cedar Tree Reference Genome and Bermuda Skink Reference Genome initiatives, are not just about preserving species but also about understanding and protecting the intricate web of life that makes our island unique. With BioQuest, we aim to bring cutting-edge genomic technology and research to the forefront of conservation, building local capacity and empowering scientists and citizen scientists with the data and tools to help protect Bermuda’s biodiversity.”

The spokesperson said, “The Bermuda Cedar Tree Reference Genome Project aims to create the first-ever reference genome from a known pure-breed Cedar Tree to be used to design a fast, efficient genetic test to determine if a seed is a pure breed or a hybrid, which are believed to now dominate our landscape. This initiative will help cultivate and distribute genuine Bermuda Cedars across the island, restoring the prominence of this iconic species, whilst identifying the remaining original “pure” trees that may be in need of enhanced protection.

CariGenetics BioQuest Bermuda November 2023_1

“The Bermuda Skink Reference Genome Project will create a high quality reference genome that will be used for future population genomics work that will address the critical endangerment of this species.

“This work will inform conservation strategies and foster a better understanding of the evolutionary dynamics of the Bermuda Skink. For example, this project will allow environmentalists, such as Owen Greenwood at Manchester Metropolitan University, to determine whether or not the Castle and Nonsuch Island populations are now genetically distinct from those remaining on the mainland.

“Both the Cedar Tree and Bermuda Skink reference genome projects are funded as part of the program, supported by Oxford Nanopore Technologies, which has a goal to support rapid sequencing of critically endangered species, anywhere, by anyone. As the first Caribbean-based organisation accepted into the program, BioQuest is proud to lead the way for other tropical Caribbean islands.

“Other projects on the BioQuest agenda for 2024 include: Bermuda cahow population study, Bermuda coral reef genetic mapping, white-eyed vireo, humpback whale, sea grass, tiger shark, Bermuda green turtle, honeybee, Bermuda mystery roses, Bermuda fish eDNA database, Bermuda Ocean Genome Legacy reference genomes and ancient cahow DNA.

CariGenetics BioQuest Bermuda November 2023_2

“BioQuest has also partnered with the Berkeley Institute and Bermuda College through their Eco-Schools Program, engaging local students in hands-on Cedar Tree research to deepen their understanding of Bermuda’s biodiversity.

“Additionally, a Cultural Apprenticeship Program, supported by a Department of Culture grant, offers a young Bermudian the opportunity to learn invaluable knowledge from a culture-bearer and research experience, contributing to the preservation of Bermuda’s natural heritage. This Apprentice was officially named as Ms Sierra Pacheco at the Launch event who will be learning from Mayor Charles Gosling who has been spearheading the Cedar Tree conservation efforts.

“It was also announced that the official Education Partner of BioQuest is the Bermuda Zoological Society [BZS]. This BZS education partnership will facilitate the delivery of current cutting-edge biodiversity research to Bermuda’s youth.

CariGenetics BioQuest Bermuda November 2023_3

“BioQuest has the long-term goal of being sustained by international grants, however, it has obtained a temporary fundraising licence [#T2186] to fund its initial operations and projects from local fundraising efforts. BioQuest invites the community and global supporters to join in its mission. Support our efforts through donations here, follow our social media pages [@bioquestngo], and stay tuned for the launch of the new BioQuest website.

“Together, we can make a lasting impact on Bermuda’s biodiversity conservation. For additional information, please contact Jean-Pierra Rouja via email at”

click here banner environment 2

Read More About

Category: All, Environment, News, technology

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Hilarious! says:

    Sounds exciting. It would be fantastic if the research could produce the optimal numbers for the balance of people, plants, wildlife, etc, for “biodiversity” over a given area in Bermuda by say postal code.

Leave a Reply