DNA waterscan

The goal of DNA Waterscan is to develop an expert system for water quality diagnosis, based on metabarcoding of macrofauna. We aim for i) a DNA library containing DNA barcodes of all 2.250 species of Dutch freshwater macrofauna, ii) optimized DNA protocols for metabarcoding bulk samples and water samples (eDNA), iii) a trait-based approach for freshwater quality diagnosis, and iv) an optimized bioinfomatics pipeline in Galaxy/Python. Project partners and stakeholders are EIS Kenniscentrum Insecten, Rijnland District Water Control Board, STOWA and Deltares. The project is funded by the Gieskes-Strijbis Fund.


This European COST-action focusses on the development of new genetic tools for bioassessments of aquatic ecosystems. The overall objective is to exchange information and best practices between the 28 European partners and to identify knowledge gaps. Work packages include DNA barcoding, data storage and bioinformatics, metabarcoding and sample protocols, environmental metrics and change of legislation. The Netherlands are represented in the management committee by drs. Berry van der Hoorn (Naturalis).

DNA Watersystem Scan & Reference Tool

Funded by the Topsector Water this project aims to develop a freshwater diagnosis tool for water managers, based on the occurrence of macrofauna species. We use a trait-based approach to define functional groups of macrofauna and determine their connection to biological and ecological variables. From there we calculate new quality metrics for decision makers. The project results in a proof of principle which will be supportive to the DNA Waterscan project. Partners are KWR, Naturalis, Royal Haskoning and Aqualab Zuid.

Freshwater community assessment and its relation to pesticides

Whilst in ecotoxicology outstanding lab experiments are performed to unravel the toxicity of pesticides, the results of these experiments can often not be directly extrapolated to natural systems. This is because many additional factors directly and indirectly influence the toxicity of pesticides. This project sets out to distinguish the effects of pesticides from these other factors and study their possible interactions. In doing so freshwater communities need to be determined. While currently morphological techniques are used for this genetic approaches will be explored as well. Partners include RIVM and the Institute of Biology Leiden.

eDNA for Community Ecology

To understand the decline of species, the natural and unnatural changes of the communities in which these species live must be understood. Unfortunately, large scale, but detailed datasets, based on morphology, of community composition in the field are rare. This study will investigate and model the relationship between biomass and eDNA concentration, so that ultimately eDNA can be used as an effective community monitoring tool for biodiversity studies. Partners are Naturalis, Hogeschool Leiden and the Institute of Biology Leiden.

eDNA assay Quagga-mussel

Since 2004 the Quagga-mussel (Dreissena bugensis) is reported from the Netherlands, a species known for its highly invasive character in North America. Our study aims to develop a rapid and cost-effective assay for early detection of low species densities, based on environmental DNA. Part of this is an estimation of the biomass of the species at a sample point. Partners for this project are Rijnland District Water Control Board and Datura.

Monitoring fish migration using eDNA

Aim of this project is to develop an eDNA based, fish-friendly quick scan method to assess the distribution and migration of fish populations in running waters. This will support water managers with a qualitative and quantitative image of for instance the effectiveness of fish passages, and of the overall connectivity in their water systems. The study is co-financed by the Topsector Water and is jointly carried out by partners KWR, Baseclear, Witteveen+Bos, ATKB and the waterboards Brabantse Delta, Aa & Maas and Limburg.