Application of genomic tools for biomonitoring of marine environments: from technology to legal and socio-economic aspects

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General information

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The aim of this workshop is to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas about the potential applications of DNA-related tools (omics) for assessing human impacts in all marine environments. Although DNA sequences have been used widely in biomedical, forensic and other applied sciences, they have been ignored until recently in environmental monitoring, despite their considerable potential utility in this field. We will discuss what environmental professionals require from these new genomic tools, the legal framework within which they will be applied, and the extent to which expectations be achieved. We expect discussions to be wide-ranging. Likely topics include defining the benefits conferred by molecular methods and how these new and rapidly developing methodologies can be integrated into current, well-established approaches using ecological indicators based on morphological taxonomy.Rapidly increasing impact 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 based on morphological species identification. New genomic tools based on the analysis of environmental DNA (eDNA) could potentially overcome these limitations, but their application for biomonitoring is still very limited. The main objective of the workshop is to examine the effectiveness of the eDNA method for seabed monitoring from ecological, legal and socio-economic perspectives. 

The workshop will discuss the need to modify regulatory requirements and legal instruments for incorporating eDNA data into biotic indices. The participants will also learn about the advantages and challenges of using eDNA to explore biodiversity and to value ecosystem services. The event will bring together molecular biologists, ecologists, environmental managers, and policy makers interested in integrating genomic tools in environmental impact assessment of industrial activities in marine environments.

The workshop is a part of the project funded by the Swiss Network for International Studies, in collaboration among others with the International Seabed Authority, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Environmental Law Institute, and Federal Institute of Water (EAWAG), Switzerland. Among the participants there are specialists of the environmental impact assessment in the deep-sea and coastal areas as well as the representatives of environmental agencies and international organisations involved in the conservation of marine environment, such as UNEP, IUCN, CIESM, and JRC.

The workshop is free and open to everyone. You are very welcome to take part in this unique event and if you wish to make a presentation of any project related to the topics of metabarcoding and marine biomonitoring.

Please do not hesitate to contact Jan Pawlowski for further information and registration.

Contact Person: Jan Wojciech Pawlowski (


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0512 - Biotechnology", "0713 - Offshore and renewable energy", "0311 - Maritime economy


Venue: Museum of Natural History
Geneva, Switzerland



Academic level: Lifelong Learning
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