Russia is apparently looking to create a DNA databank of all living creatures. Could this be the modern-day Noah's Ark?
Researchers from Moscow State University plan to build a database that will house the DNA of practically every creature known to man. The DNA databank will be created at the campus of the Moscow State University. The project is expected to be complete by 2018 and the first phase, which has been announced, will cost $19 million.
"I call the project 'Noah's Ark.' It will involve the creation of a depository -- a databank for the storing of every living thing on Earth, including not only living, but disappearing and extinct organisms. This is the challenge we have set for ourselves," said Viktor Sadivnichy, rector of Moscow State University.
"If it's realized, this will be a leap in Russian history as the first nation to create an actual Noah's Ark of sorts," he said.
Britain has a similar project underway, "Frozen Ark," which catalogs the DNA of endangered species. This project is also the first of its kind and is hailed as "the animal equivalent of the 'Millennium Seed Bank,'" which, in turn, is the world's largest plant conservation program.
The Russian project, on the other hand, aims to store the DNA of pretty much every known organism on Earth.
The "ark" that will be created by researchers at the Moscow State University will be nearly 430 square kms in size. The project will enable the scientists to "cryogenically freeze" as well as store the different types of cellular matter, which can later be reproduced if required. The ark will also have an information system. Not all the DNA, however, will need to be stored in a petri dish.
According to the Moscow State University, the DNA database will have biomaterial from different branches of the university. These branches include the Zoological Museum, Botanical Garden and the Anthropological Museum.
The various departments of the university will be participating in the collation of data and the ensuing research. The initiative has received funding of 1 billion rubles (approximately $194 million).
The DNA databank from the university will be linked to several other facilities in homes, even outside Russia.