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OTC Rostock: Innovative analytical methods for environmental monitoring of aquatic habitats based on nucleic acid sequencing (OTC genomics) - A

01.11.2021 - 31.01.2025
Project manager:
Prof. Dr. Matthias Labrenz
BMBF - Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung
Cross-Cutting Activity: Innovative Instrumentation
Planet AI GmbH
LGC Genomics GmbH

The aim of OTC-Genomics is to extend existing environmental monitoring methods of aquatic habitats by new innovative analytical methods based on microbial nucleic acids (16S rRNA genes) as well as freely available environmental nucleic acids (eDNA; 18S rRNA genes) from water samples. Using the example of the western Baltic Sea, OTC-Genomics will develop the necessary basic research, instrument development, bioinformatics and artificial intelligence (AI) and make them available as a user-friendly overall tool. New sampling methods at autonomous offshore stations will enable a much higher temporal and spatial resolution in the investigation of microbial/macrobial communities. In the long term, the aim is to develop new methodological standards and norms that will enable a future-oriented, cost-effective and parameter-open environmental monitoring procedure.
In the first three years of the project, OTC-Genomics will focus on (1) developing a reproducible and semi-autonomous processing pipeline and (2) investigating whether the analysis of microbial data using various machine learning methods can infer or identify pollutant loads in the aquatic environment.


  • Glackin, C. C., S. Dupke, T. S. Chandra, D. Riedinger and M. Labrenz (2024). Combined TCBS and CHROMagar analyses allow for basic identification of Vibrio vulnificus within a 48 h incubation period in the coastal Baltic Sea. Microorganisms 12: 614, doi: 10.3390/microorganisms12030614
  • Sperlea, T., D. Heider and G. Hattab (2022). A theoretical basis for bioindication in complex ecosystems. Ecol. Indic. 140: 109050, doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2022.109050