Genetic research on biological diversity with the Environmental Specimen Bank

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Federal Environmental
Specimen Bank

Descriptions of the individual subprojects

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of the project

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Welcome to TrendDNA

In the “TrendDNA” project funded by the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt; UBA), long-term biological samples from the Federal Environmental Specimen Bank (ESB) are analyzed using the latest molecular methods. These methods will be used to elucidate changes in the biological environment in recent decades and will be integrated into the standard examination of environmental samples in the future. For this purpose, the archived terrestrial, limnic and marine samples are analyzed using different genetic approaches, thereby decoding the biodiversity of microorganisms, invertebrates and vertebrates. Using the modern technology of DNA metabarcoding and metagenomics, changes in entire species communities can be characterized. This applies to environmental DNA from macroorganisms as well as microbial communities associated with the samples. Population genomic analyses within species also make it possible to detect recent evolutionary changes, e.g. in response to climate change. The aim of the project is to test the potential of the stored ESB samples for environmental DNA analyses, to validate them using detailed case studies, and to develop a concept for how the new data from ESB sample material can be used for official environmental assessment and environmental protection on an ongoing basis. The key questions underlying this implementation are:

1. Which sample types of the ESB are suitable for genetic investigations in order to analyze current and temporal trends in biological diversity in the sampling areas?

2. What current research questions can the ESB work address regarding biological diversity and how it changes over time?

3. How can the ESB use genetic data to support official environmental protection and environmental monitoring by the federal and state governments?