Water Resource Price 2018 to Florian and Leeselab

Florian has been successfully nominated for this year’s Water Resource Award 2018 of the Ruediger Kurt Bode Foundation. The award acknowledges the pioneering, interdisciplinary research Florian and his lab are doing in aquatic biomonitoring – from research to application – and the award comes with a price money of 100,000 €. Major parts of the funding will be to support the research and the network behind the DNAqua-Net project. Furthermore, the money will be used to award excellent and innovative young researchers for visionary Master Theses in biodiversity research.

The Award Ceremony took place in Dresden on June 3rd 2018 as part of the Water Research Horizon Conference. A few impressions are shown below:

Photo 1: Award Ceremony in Dresden. LTR: Prof. Dr. Arndt Bode (Chairman of the Ruediger Kurt Bode Foundation), Prof. Dr. Florian Leese, Dr. Arne Beermann, Vera Zizka, Dr. Alexander Weigand, Dr. Martina Weiss (all Leeselab members) and Prof. Dr. Peter Krebs (Member of the Jury). Copyright:  Ruediger Kurt Bode Foundation/Bettina Ausserhofer.

Photo 2: Prof. Dr. Arndt Bode (Chairman of the Ruediger Kurt Bode Foundation) holding the laudatio. Copyright:  Ruediger Kurt Bode Foundation/Bettina Ausserhofer.

Photo 3: Awardee Prof. Dr. Florian Leese. Copyright:  Ruediger Kurt Bode Foundation/Bettina Ausserhofer.

Here further press information (German only, sorry):




Graduation Hannah Weigand

On January 12th 2018 Hannah Weigand defended successfully her PhD thesis “Improving, applying and evaluating ddRAD sequencing for the detection of local adaptation to anthropogenic stressors in stream macroinvertebrates”. The thesis was part of the Junior Research Group project “GeneStream” funded by the Kurt Eberhard Bode-Foundation

Members of the examination committee were Prof. Dr. Daniel Hoffmann, Dr. Joe Hoffman (University of Bielefeld) and Prof. Dr. Florian Leese. Chair of the Committee was Prof. Dr. Angela Sandmann.

Photo: Florian Leese, Hannah Weigand, Joe Hoffman

Graduation Martina Weiss

Congrats to Martina Weiss for the successful defence of her PhD thesis entitled “Investigating patterns and processes underlying cryptic diversity and small-scale population structure in hololimnic freshwater species”. The project was part of the “GeneStream” project funded by the Kurt Eberhard Bode Foundation.

Examiners were PD Dr. Steffen Pauls (Senckenberg, Frankfurt) and Florian Leese. Chair of the committe was Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schreiber.

Foto: Florian Leese, Martina Weiss und Steffen Pauls.


Successful graduation Jan Macher

Congrats to  Jan Macher for successfully defending his PhD thesis on the “Development, testing and application of DNA-based methods to study freshwater invertebrate biodiversity under stress”.

Examiner were Prof. Dr. Ralph Tollrian (Ruhr University of Bochum, Prof. Dr. Jens Boenigk and Prof. Dr. Florian Leese. Chair of the committee was Prof. Dr. Daniel Hering.Photo: PhD committee and candidate. F.r.t.l.: Daniel Hering, Jens Boenigk, Florian Leese, Jan Macher, Ralph Tollrian


Early Career Award to Vasco Elbrecht

Vasco Elbrecht has successfully been awarded with the 1st place of the Early Career Researcher Prize (Schoerbel-Benndorf Prize) of the German Limnological Society (DGL). The price was awarded for his research on strengths and weaknesses of DNA-based bioassessment of stream biodiversity. A Video of his talk can be found here. The paper that he submitted as the candidate paper for the price can be found here. CONGRATULATIONS!
Photo above: Vasco Elbrecht giving his plenary talk during the conference in Cottbus.
Photo left: Florian Leese taking the price certificate and the ‘trophy’ named ‘Clara’ (a Daphnia made of metal) on Vasco’s behalf. By that time, Vasco has already moved to his new position as a PostDoc in Canada (University of Ontario, Guelph, Barcode of Life Project).

Graduation Vasco Elbrecht

Congrats to Vasco for his highly successful defense of his PhD thesis entitled “Development of DNA metabarcoding methods for stream ecosystem assessment”.

The PhD committee consisted of the following examiners: Prof. Dr. Jens Boenigk, Prof. Dr. Simon Creer (University of Bangor, UK) and Florian Leese. Chair of the committe was Prof. Dr. Peter Haase.

Photo: PhD thesis committee of Vasco Elbrecht. F.r.t.l.: Peter Haase, Florian Leese, Vasco Elbrecht, Simon Creer, Jens Boenigk

New publication: Using DNA metabarcoding for water quality assessment

In a just-released article in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution, we investigate the potential of DNA metabarcoding of freshwater macroinvertebrates for the assessment of stream health. With the “DNA metabarcoding” method hundreds of specimen in a sample can be identified, often up to species level. The assessment results of the morphology and DNA based methods were very similar with both methods, while DNA metabarcoding  detected more taxa on species level. However, metabarcoding has also shortcomings, for example, the method  failed to detect ~ 30% of the taxa identified by morphology. This work is an important step into validation and improvement of the metabarcoding method, and it highlights it’s potential for more rapid and accurate routine monitoring of freshwater streams.

Picture 1: Vasco Elbrecht, Edith Vamos and Florian Leese (from left to right),  in cooperation with Kristian Meissner and Jukka Aroviita from the Finnish Environment institute, analysed 18 monitoring samples from Finnish streams.

Additionally, our R package PrimerMiner was featured on the cover page of the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

Picture 2: The cover picture in Methods in Ecology and Evolution shows a macroinverterte sample which is homogenised using liquid nitrogen and a mortar, in order to extract the DNA from the sample.