Environmental Specimen Bank

The Environmental Specimen Bank (ESB) is a central component of long-term environmental monitoring in Germany. A wide variety of samples from various organisms and ecosystems (marine, limnic and terrestrial) have been systematically stored in the ESB since the 1980s, and can be used to monitor the quality of the environment. This monitoring is currently based mainly on chemical and physical parameters. However, because the samples are stored in liquid nitrogen, their molecular components – especially DNA and RNA – are also extremely well preserved. The ESB’s systematic and standardized sampling protocols, coupled with recent technological developments in the field of genetic environmental monitoring, make these samples ideal for uncovering patterns of biodiversity change over time. The ESB thus offers enormous potential for a wide range of biodiversity analyses – from populations to species to communities; from microorganisms to invertebrates to vertebrates and higher vascular plants – in marine, limnic and terrestrial habitats.