How effective is the metabarcoding approach as a tool for measuring the status of marine biodiversity?


Rapidly increasing impacts of industrial activities on marine biodiversity strongly affects marine ecosystem health and services. Yet, the growing demand for measuring and mitigating these impacts can hardly be satisfied by classical monitoring tools based on morphological species identification. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies applied to environmental genomics could potentially overcome these limitations, but their application for biomonitoring and environmental impact assessment is currently very limited.

The main objective of this project is to explore the potential utility of NGS – based metabarcoding approach for environmental monitoring of marine ecosystems from biological, legal and economic perspectives. The first part of the project aims to establish the ecogenomic markers for measuring the environmental impact on seabottom diversity in the case of two types of industrial activity: marine aquaculture and deep-sea mining. The second part of the project will focus on understanding the legal and institutional framework surrounding environmental monitoring and future application of ecogenomic markers.

The outcome of the project will be to provide regulators and environmental managers with an evaluation of the effectiveness of the metabarcoding approach as a tool for measuring the status of marine biodiversity. At the same time, the project will provide policy makers and stakeholders at the national and international levels with the information required to implement future decisions necessary to monitor, observe and protect the marine environment.


  • Marine ecosystems
  • Environmental study
  • Sustainable development
  • Biodiversity assessment
  • Genetic monitoring


  • Biology
  • Environment


International Organisations

  • International Seabed Authority

Non Governmental Organisation

  • Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative
  • The Mediterranean Science Commission
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature
  • International Barcode of Life

Relevant Countries

  • All countries


This project, that started in 2015, has been completed.

Contact the project team

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Research team

Jan Pawlowski
University of Geneva

Daniel Ariztegui
University of Geneva

Florian Andermatt
Principal Member
Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag)

Philippe Esling
Principal Member
Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris 6)

Lisa Levin
Principal Member
University of California San Diego

Kathryn Mengerink
Principal Member

Sandor Mulsow
Principal Member
International Seabed Authority

Tomas Cedhagen
Associated Member
Aarhus Universitet

Kristina Gjerde
Associated Member
International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Andrew Gooday
Associated Member
University of Southampton