Sala de Graus II. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
08193 Cerdanyola del Vallès Barcelona
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CREAF Talk with Arjen de Groot & Marcel Polling - "Integrating eDNA analysis into innovative biomonitoring approaches for nature and agriculture"

Thursday, March 14, 2024

TITLE: "Integrating eDNA analysis into innovative biomonitoring approaches for nature and agriculture "

DATE: Thursday, 14th March 2024.

TIME & FORMAT: form 12 to 1pm CET - In-person and online.

Seminars will combine in-person and online formats (CREAF, Sala Graus II, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain) but in all cases, talks will be always streamed (not recorded), so they can be followed online.

HOW TO CONNECT: direct link to the conference.


Current environmental changes and anthropogenic pressures urge for rapid and efficient measures to conserve and bolster our natural diversity and ecosystem functions. To assess whether such measures indeed have a positive effect on biodiversity, innovative approaches are invaluable to reach high-throughput and high-resolution biomonitoring programmes. In this talk, we discuss the potential of eDNA-based analysis for monitoring organisms in various environments (soil, water and air), as well as its place in a wider suite of innovative monitoring tools like image and sound recognition and remote sensing. We show a selection of recent and ongoing projects from our Wageningen Environmental Research Laboratory of Ecological Genetics, in which such ‘integrated biomonitoring’ is applied in both natural systems and nature-positive agriculture.   


After studying Biology at Utrecht University (NL), with a focus on plant ecology and biogeology, Arjen de Groot continued at this institute in 2007 as a PhD-student. He studied the roles of dispersal and establishment in the development of species and genetic diversity in new nature areas. To be able to identify the diversity in the soil diaspore bank and to assess genetic diversity in plant populations, he had to learn and develop various molecular techniques. After finishing his PhD in 2012, he joined Wageningen Environmental Research to be able to use similar techniques for more applied nature conservation. By using molecular tools to study ecosystem diversity and functioning, he aims to contribute to a better knowledge basis for trajectories towards a more sustainable, nature-inclusive society and agriculture.

Marcel Pollling started his professional career as a palynologist – a specialist in pollen – in 2012 in Wales (UK) after his study of geology in Utrecht, the Netherlands. He spent long days identifying pollen grains under a microscope until he figured there must be a better way for this. In 2018, he therefore started a PhD at Naturalis Biodiversity Center (NL) on innovative methods of identifying pollen where he focused on automatic image recognition and DNA metabarcoding. After finishing his PhD in 2021, he was convinced that DNA techniques offer the highest opportunity for innovative ecological studies, and he started his position as a molecular ecologist at Wageningen Environmental Research. Here, he works on projects combining such innovative techniques to improve the quality of biomonitoring for a wide range of organisms from soil, water and air.