Genoscope, the French National Sequencing Center, was created in 1996 to fulfil the following missions:
1) To ensure the participation of France in the Human Genome Project and more generally, to participate in the effort of the developed nations to produce sequence data of general interest with free public access.
2) To respond to the large-scale sequencing needs of the national academic community.
3) To maintain state-of-the art expertise in the domain of sequencing and sequence analysis.
In these very large international projects Genoscope has been able to contribute in an original manner, and was the first to propose that the human genome contained 30,000 genes or less. Genoscope has participated in international consortiums in the domain of plant genomes and research here has also revealed major events in the evolution of eukaryotic genomes (vertebrates, ciliates, plants).
Since its establishment 10 years ago, the annual sequencing volume has been multiplied by 40 and the costs divided by 30.
Recently, Genoscope has reoriented its scientific objectives in the direction of exploitation of sequence data.
Genoscope’s initial missions are still current. However, the Human Genome Project has progressed to an exploitation phase which is being developed at the CNG (National Genotyping Center). We have wished to enlarge the field of analysis of sequence data in extending the analysis to the experimental identification of biological functions.
The ensemble of internal Genoscope projects are presently in the domains of genomics of the environment and its biodiversity. These projects will open up perspectives for developments in the biotechnology industry in the logic of sustainable development. It should be noted that the JGI (Joint Genome Institute, the DOE (Department of Energy) sequencing center) has followed a very similar evolution, and that the DOE devotes a considerable potion of their budget to programmes in the environmental sector and microorganisms of industrial, bioenergetic or bioremediation interest.
In the coming ten years, the procedures of bioconversion should occupy 10 to 20% of the ensemble of the production. Research in France in this sector which is very important for the future of the chemical industry is not very developed at the moment. Genoscope has initiated a project which involves research on bioconversion activities of interest for industry. Several industrialists have shown a lively interest in the new orientations of Genoscope in this sector.
Two recent examples also demonstrate that procedures of chemical synthesis utilizing biocatalysis have a spectacular impact on the environment both in economy of energy and in reduction of waste. To the extent that the “polluter-payer” principle becomes increasingly important, the financial incitations toward a sustainable chemistry will create a growing demand in this sector, in which development is inescapable.