LabCom - V1 - Laboratoires communs organismes de recherche publics – PME/ETI - Vague 1

Environmental DNA Diagnosis of Marine Environments – Diag-ADNe

Submission summary

The ocean currently contributes 2.5% of the world's gross domestic product (GDP) and provides employment for 1.5% of the world's labor force, but these contributions are expected to double by 2030. Indeed, the ocean is increasingly seen as a source of food, energy and a means of mitigating climate change. However, many marine species have suffered severe declines threatening those services to human societies. In this context, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) help to reduce human impacts on marine biodiversity and sustain associated services.

The evaluation of these impacts and protection strategies on the marine environment requires reliable biological indicators and predictive models. Many indicators of the health of marine ecosystems have been proposed in the framework of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) which concerns all European countries. These indicators are based on a census of species, especially fish that are among the most vulnerable species but also among the most essential for services such as food and employment provision. However, the numerous methods deployed to census fish are either destructive (fishing), limited in depth and on the surface sampled (visual census by divers) or require heavy equipment and many hours of analysis (underwater video). All these protocols are moreover invasive and can bias the results with an escape of the most elusive animals (sharks) or the non-detection of the smallest (crypto-benthic fish).

As an alternative, an innovative inventory method, based on the filtration and analysis of the environmental DNA left by aquatic organisms (fluids, cells, faeces), makes it possible to very effectively inventory fish biodiversity. The LabCom Diag-ADNe "Diagnostic ADN Environnemental des Milieux Marins" aims to combine (i) the expertise of the company SPYGEN (, a world pioneer in environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis in aquatic environments and (ii) the academic skills of the MARBEC laboratory ( in the development and modeling of biodiversity indicators with Artificial Intelligence algorithms, to overcome three methodological obstacles and thus access new markets (local and international, public and private), but also to increase French academic excellence in this field (patents, publications). These three innovations, which must reach a state of maturity for a market launch (TRL 9) before the end of the project are:
1. A watertight and sterile filtration system for the deep environment;
2. A platform for the automated calculation of 9 indicators based on eDNA-recorded fish species;
3. A diagnosis of the marine environment based on Artificial Intelligence algorithms such as Machine Learning to evaluate the level of the indicators measured in relation to a reference state (MPA).

Project coordinator

Monsieur David Mouillot (Centre pour la biodiversité marine, l'exploitation et la conservation)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


MARBEC Centre pour la biodiversité marine, l'exploitation et la conservation

Help of the ANR 350,000 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: February 2021 - 54 Months

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