The Ocean Biomolecular Observing Network (OBON) is a UN Ocean Decade-endorsed programme, led by the Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean (POGO), which was created by a large consortium of international and regional organisations, research institutions and NGOs with a common interest in advancing biomolecular observation of the ocean.

In 2020, POGO used funds remaining from a Richard Lounsbery Foundation grant to fund an International Virtual Conference on eDNA: Opportunities and Challenges, which was organised and led by the POGO Biological Observations WG. This meeting provided an opportunity to envision what a sustainable global ‘omics/eDNA monitoring system could look like, to promote global coordination among the organisations that were fostering eDNA and ‘omics for marine environments, and to coordinate efforts to develop a programme proposal in response to the call for action from the UN Ocean Decade.

Following on from the conference, a proposal was developed for OBON, to use techniques to analyse biomolecules such as DNA, RNA, and proteins (e.g., eDNA analysis, metabarcoding, ‘omics) to enhance coastal and open ocean biodiversity observations. The proposal was submitted in January 2021 and endorsed by the UN Ocean Decade in June 2021.

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