eDentity: a national eDNA infrastructure

Janus G3 robot

Naturalis is building a large-scale research infrastructure for biodiversity monitoring through environmental DNA. This will allow, for the first time, a near-real time view of the state of biodiversity in the Netherlands. The project is called eDentity, and should be available in 2028. This infrastructure was made possible by a €18.573.838 subsidy from the Applied Research Facilities funding program by the Ministery of Economic Affairs & Climate.

This project is currently managed by researcher Vincent Merckx and collections director Eva van der Veer (mail)

52.166196450925, 4.47349645

The eDentity infrastructure will allow for the analysis of large amounts biological samples (soil, water, air filters, etc) through standard procedures. It aims to facilitate all steps of the analysis, from sampling to data analysis, quickly and at low cost, for a maximum of 250.000 samples per year. The planned timeline is as follows:

  • Preparation (current)
    Strategy, organization, hiring
  • Start (2024-2025)
    Buying & validating equipment, writing protocols, setting up data infrastructure
  • Testing (2026-2028)
    Collecting samples on a large scale, testing 100.000 of them per year, front office opens
  • Exploitation (2028)
    A national facility, operating at cost-recovery prices, is delivered, along with a reference dataset consisting of 300.000 samples.


We will
be looking for partners

300.000 samples is a lot.  In the near future, we will be looking for partners that can help us get them. For now, we are looking for professional organizations, either from a commercial or a conservation background. We want to get in touch with them, and see how their needs can be aligned with the infrastructure we're building. If you're not planning to provide samples but are looking forward to using the data generated by eDentity, please also contact us! 

Put me on your mailing list!

Minister Dijkgraaf taking a soil sample
Samples in IJmuiden

Frequently Asked

What good is an eDNA infrastructure if we can only recognize roughly half of all Dutch species by their DNA?
We're working on it! eDentity is standing on the shoulders of ARISE, another Dutch biodiversity research infrastructure that is currently working very hard on completing a national DNA barcode reference library. That will make this infrastructure possible.

But that's only eukaryotic species. They're a minority. 
eDentity will focus on them for the moment. We hope, through collaborations, to make analysis of prokaryote and maybe even virus genetic material available too in the future. 

This is so awesome! We could set up a citizen science project where we -

We're sure your idea is great! But we really have enough of a challenge ahead of us. We hope to be able to expand the possibilities in the future.

Do you have any job openings?
This page is updated infrequently. You can look if there's anything relevant on the Naturalis Job Openings page.

How will the data from eDentity be made available?
The baseline 300.000 measurements will be shared publicly, FAIR and open, through an as yet undecided platform. Whether the same will happen with all data generated through eDentity during the exploitation phase, is as yet undecided. If you want to have a say in the matter, you sound like the kind of person we want in our user panel