Author Archives: Florian Leese

New Publication – Primer Validation

Yesterday, a new publication by Vasco und Florian entitled “Validation and Development of COI Metabarcoding Primers for Freshwater Macroinvertebrate Bioassessment“has been published in Frontiers in Environmental Science (Link). In the study we demonstrate problems with several of the currently available metabarcoding primers and tested four newly developed COI primers targeting aquatic macroinvertebrates. Our analyses show that the new primers (BF/BR) are highly suitable and amplify very equally the analysed taxa. Most importantly, however, our study shows how important careful design and validation of primers for a certain region, habitat or target taxon group is. With growing data bases there is still much potential for future improvement.

Prize awarded to Bianca!

Bianca Peinert from our group has just been awarded the Prize of the 50th Essen Water Quality and Waste Management conference. She received the highly competitive price for her innovative Master Thesis on “DNA-based aquatic biomonitoring“, which was part of the GeneStream-Project (Bode Foundation). Main supervisors of the thesis were Vasco Elbrecht and Arne Beermann, PhD students at leeselab. The award of 2000 Euros was shared this year by two winners.

Congratulations, Bianca, for this great achievement!!!  

Bild: M.Sc. Bianca Peinert with the certificate of the award.

DNAqua-Net Kick-Off conference

Since November 2016, Florian leads the large EU COST Action Network DNAqua-Net. As the Grant Manager of the Action, Alexander is the responsible coordinator of the network which already now encompasses 300 researchers, end user, managers & regulators as well as industry partners from 42 nations.

The aim of the COST Action DNAqua-Net is to explore the potential of novel DNA-based methods for bioassessment of aquatic ecosystems (lakes, rivers, oceans, groundwater) and to suggest standardised application strategies. These can only be successful in large-scale monitoring programs, such as the EU Water Framework Directive, if researchers within the scientific community agree on clear standards and work together with partners from the environmental regulators and industry partners.

Just now, from March 6th until 9th, we have hosted the Kick-Off conference of DNAqua-Net in Essen. 172 participants from 37 nations met at the Campus of our University to discuss in a highly constructive atmosphere chances and limits of the novel techniques. Some impression from the conference as well as the preceding Management Committee meeting can be found  here.

DNAqua-Net conference participants

Molecular Ecology Module

On September 5th our new module “Molecular Ecology” will start. For one week we will generate molecular data to investigate patterns and factors influencing intraspecific genetic variation in benthic macroinvertebrates at the Forschungsinstituts Senckenberg in Gelnhausen. Subsequently, we will perform bioinformatic analyses in the second part of the module at University of Duisburg-Essen.

Study area will be the Rhein-Main-Observatorium.

Molecular Ecology Module

PhD position DNA metabarcoding available

The University of Duisburg-Essen (Campus Essen)
Centre for Water and Environmental Research (ZWU)
Aquatic Ecosystem Research Group (Leese-Lab) offers

1 PhD position (Part-time 55%; salary equivalent TV-L 13)
in Genetic Monitoring / Metabarcoding
(BMBF German Barcode of Life 2 subproject)

The group of Prof. Florian Leese is interested in developing new
molecular approaches to assess the ecological status of aquatic
ecosystems. Specifically, we develop and apply DNA metabarcoding
to monitor changes in stream communities under environmental
stressors. Furthermore, we utilize genome- wide markers and perform
transcriptional profiling to understand population and organismal
responses to multiple stressors. As part of a recently granted subproject
within the large collaborative German Barcode of Life Project (GBOL2,
funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, BMBF),
we want to bring DNA metabarcoding of freshwater invertebrates to
the application stage. In cooperation with our collaborators at
the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig (Bonn, Germany),
the candidate will collect samples, perform experiments, generate and
analyse next-generation sequencing data on whole communities (amplicon
sequencing). Further reading: Elbrecht & Leese, PLoS ONE 2015, DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0130324; Macher, Salis et al., Ecological Indicators,

The successful candidate (f/m) will hold a Master in Biology, Chemistry or
Bioinformatics and has good experience in molecular lab work. Furthermore,
he/she has experience and strong interest in a programming or
scripting language (e.g. R, C, Python). Candidates will benefit from the
international and interdisciplinary research environment at the research
group, the GBOL2 project and the ZWU. Excellent high-throughput genomics
and bioinformatics equipment are available in the newly equipped labs.

The position will start as soon as possible initially for 2,5 years
(will be extended).  Deadline: 29. February 2016

For more information please visit:

Please send applications as a single pdf file with reference code
42-16 to For questions please contact

We are one of the youngest universities in Germany and think in terms
of possibilities, not limitations. In the heart of the Ruhrregion,
we develop ideas of the future at our 11 faculties. We are strong in
research and teaching, live diversity, support potential and are highly
committed to an educational equality that has earned this name.

The University Duisburg-Essen aims at promoting
the diversity of its members (see http://www.uni- Applications from disabled persons
or equivalents according to ง 2 Abs. 3 SGB IX are encouraged.

The University Duisburg-Essen has been awarded for its effort to promote
gender equality with the “Total-E- Quality-Award”. It aims at increasing
the share of women in the scientific personnel and therefore explicitly
encourages women to apply. Women will be preferentially considered when
equally qualified according to the state equality law.

Link to original job offer: URL:

Prof. Dr. Florian Leese
University of Duisburg-Essen
Faculty of Biology
Aquatic Ecosystem Research
Universitaetsstrasse 5
D-45141 Essen, Germany

+49 201.183-4053  |  @leeselab

Talk by Míklos Bálint

Miklos Blind from the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) in Frankfurt gave a talk in the Molecular Ecology and Evolution Colloquium, organised by our group and the biodiversity working group (AG Boenigk). He presented data on the high-throughput ecology of fungal-plant interactions as inferred by metabarcoding.
We’d like to thank Miki for the excellent talk and the discussions.



Foto: Miki Bálint giving his talk.