Developing new genetic tools for bioassessment of aquatic ecosystems in Europe

EU - others (COST Action CA15219, 2016 - ?, running project)
Coordinator or leader of the project: 
Florian Leese
Coordinator or leader institution of the project: 
University of Duisburg-Essen, Aquatic Ecosystem Research
Responsible person at ÖK: 
Short description: 

Vision and Mission

The protection, preservation and restoration of aquatic ecosystems and their functions is of global importance. For European states it became legally binding mainly through the EU-Water Framework Directive (WFD; 2000/60/EC) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC). In order to assess the ecological status of a given water body, aquatic biodiversity data are obtained and compared to a reference water body. The quantified mismatch thus obtained determines the extent of potential management actions.

The current approach to biodiversity assessment and monitoring is based on morpho-taxonomy. This approach has many drawbacks such as being time consuming, limited in temporal and spatial resolution, and error-prone due to variation of individual taxonomic expertise of the analysts. Novel genomic tools can circumvent many of the aforesaid problems and could complement traditional bioassessment and biomonitoring strategies. Yet, a plethora of approaches are independently developed in different institutions, thereby hampering any concerted routine application.

The goal of DNAqua-Net is to nucleate a group of researchers across disciplines with the task to identify gold-standard genomic tools and novel eco-genomic indices and metrics for routine application for biodiversity assessments and biomonitoring of European water bodies. Furthermore, DNAqua-Net will provide a platform for training of the next generation of European researchers preparing them for the new technologies. Jointly with water managers, politicians and other stakeholders, the group will develop a conceptual framework for the standard application of eco-genomic tools as part of legally binding assessments.

To achieve those targets, DNAqua-Net comprises of five working groups (WGs) that are working on individual goals in order to achieve the main goals of the Action:

WG1 – DNA Barcode References
lead by Torbjørn Ekrem, Fedor Čiampor

WG2 – Biotic Indices & Metrics
Jan Pawlowski, Maria Kahlert

WG3 – Field & Lab Protocols
Kat Bruce, Emre Keskin

WG4 – Data Analysis & Storage
Kessy Abarenkov, Diego Fontaneto

WG5 – Implementation Strategy & Legal Issues
Patricia Mergen, Daniel Hering



DNAqua-Net consortium (2016) DNAqua-Net: Developing new genetic tools for bioassessment and monitoring of aquatic ecosystems in Europe. Research Ideas & Outcomes 2: e11321.