DNA libraries

Naturalis Biodiversity Center curates the state’s collection of over 40 Million specimens of plants, animals, fungi and fossils. The oldest specimens date back from the 16th century, providing a (genetic) window back in time. The collection is open access and used as a reference for species identification and detection. Together with Dutch NGO’s and over 200 experts we collected and DNA barcoded 20 thousand specimens of the Netherlands, striving for at least three specimens of every species to capture geographic variation. We collected most of the vascular plants and mosses, many mushrooms, invertebrates and vertebrates. At the moment we are actively targeting for missing freshwater and marine species.

Bioinformatics and software

Naturalis and BaseClear possess accurate bioinformatic pipelines; NGS data is assembled or clustered and blasted to (inter)national and custom databases. These identification pipelines are developed in joined research projects during the past five years. Software for complex analysis of DNA data (Geneious) and 2D-3D morphometrics (Aviso) is available. Phylogenetic pipelines for composite datasets has been set up. All partners provide instructions for users.


Laboratory facilities at Naturalis comprise a broad spectrum of DNA laboratories including Ancient DNA facility, NGS and high throughput barcoding. State of the art equipment for 2D and 3D morphological analysis is present including stacking LM microscopy, SEM, TEM, MicroCT. Chemical analysis is possible through a set of spectral analysers at our Geology lab. Furthermore, a large number of facilities of the faculty of Science are available through the Institute of Environmental Sciences, a.o., DNA markerpoint, Cell Observatory, Ecotox laboratory, climate chambers, etc. See also the Open Access Research Infrastructure (OARI).

Living Lab

The Living Lab is a newly established research facility, to be available from early 2017 on. It will be 36 ditches, each with a length of 10 meters located on an extension of the Bio Science Park in Leiden. These ditches will be exposed to different combinations of chemical compounds used in agriculture, such as nutrients and pesticides, so that they can be tested under real natural conditions. Here, also genetic biodiversity assessment techniques will be tested.

Students and education

Together with the Institute of Biology Leiden, Naturalis and the Institute of Environmental Sciences are responsible for the education in biology of the Leiden University. The partners participate in the complete curriculum of biology, from the first year to the third year of the BSc-program and during the MSC track Ecology, Biodiversity and Conservation. Many students are involved in the research projects of partners.