Exploring the North Sea biodiversity by eDNA metabarcoding

The North sea biodiversity

The North Sea is one of the most intensely used seas in the world. Its natural resources are exploited for gas drilling, fishing and renewable energy. Despite the heavy exploitation and a long history of research, surprisingly little is known about the biodiversity of the North Sea. Molecular methods have great potential to change this. In this project, environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding of samples from across the North Sea will be used to analyze the distribution and taxonomic diversity of vertebrates, zooplankton and protists. This project is part of a long-term monitoring program on North Sea biodiversity.

Please reply by 10 December, preferred start date to be discussed.


Next -generation sequencing and data analysis


Willem Renema, Jan Macher




Period and duration

6-9 months (MSc); 2-3 months (BSc)

Study and level

Biology, MSc or BSc.

and goals

1) Assess taxonomic diversity of vertebrates, zooplankton and protists in the North Sea.

Environmental DNA (eDNA) will be extracted from samples taken at several locations in the Dutch North Sea. Next-generation sequencing techniques such as metabarcoding will be used to assess the taxonomic diversity based on genetic data. As many species are difficult to observe or hard to identify based on morphological methods alone, it is expected that metabarcoding will lead to a greatly increased knowledge on the true diversity of species and their distribution in the North Sea.

tasks and approach

DNA extraction and PCRs to amplify marker genes of different taxonomic groups. Sequencing library preparation and data analysis using several bioinformatic steps and ecological statistical analyses.

The North sea biodiversity


BSc degree in biology (in case of a bachelor’s project completion of the 1st and 2nd year of the biology program), including courses on  molecular techniques.