1️⃣ Activity 1

Investigate how modern science is conducted using the Darwin Tree of Life as an example.

Make sure you address the following points:

  • What are the objectives of the Darwin Tree of Life project?
  • Why is it important for this science to take place?
  • Briefly describe three different roles involved in the project
  • Briefly describe the three stages involved in the project

There are 3 ways to find the answers:

  1. Read the information below to help you with your answer.
  2. Follow the links at the bottom for more information.
  3. Ask the scientists your question directly and read their answers, or join in a live Chat.


“There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful, have been, and are being, evolved.”

Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species (1859)

20 years ago, mankind sequenced the human genome for the very first time.

Now, the Darwin Tree of Life project aims to sequence the genomes of all 70,000 species of eukaryotic organisms in Britain and Ireland.

The project has 3 stages: species acquisition, sequencing, and then annotation. The Darwin Tree of Life project will carefully collect representatives of each species, using advanced DNA sequencing technologies and cutting-edge computational tools to understand how the DNA sequence translates into the diversity of life.

Watch the clip on YouTube: Programme Leader Professor Mark Blaxter explains how they will assist in conservation efforts

Director of the Wellcome Sanger Institute , Professor Sir Mike Stratton, said, “The science that we produce with our partners will deliver unprecedented and invaluable insights into the nature of all life. This knowledge will provide a foundation for the future of biology, it will present new opportunities for humankind and help us understand and preserve our inheritance of 3.5 billion years of life’s evolution on Earth.

There are a wide variety of people who are taking part to help make this large-scale, long-term project happen, including specialists in DNA extraction and sequencing like the DNA Sequencers team, or experts in certain types of organisms like the Exoskeleton team.

Meet some of the teams you can talk to who are making the Darwin Tree of Life project happen >

The Darwin Tree of Life programme is collaborating with a number of different partners including the Natural History Museum in London and the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew and Edinburgh. Read more about who the Darwin Tree of Life programme is collaborating with.

Handy links to help you

Join a live chat every Thursday at 5pm.



You can also join a live Chat and speak to the scientists involved.

Live Chats for all students take place on the last Tuesday of the month at 12pm.

What’s next? Time to…

  1. Meet the teams you can Chat to
  2. Take part in a live Chat
  3. Start asking questions (and getting some answers)
  4. Go to your Dashboard for at-a-glance updates
  5. Take the latest Quiz