Go straight to content
Molecular Ecology and Paleogenomics - MEP

Molecular Ecology and Paleogenomics - MEP

The Molecular Ecology and Paleogenomics Research Group (MEP) applies molecular tools to address basic ecological and climatic questions. Our research covers marine and fresh water, sediments, and sea ice and contribute to a better understanding, and a sound management, of marine and freshwater ecosystems.

Life in water

Organisms that live in oceans, lakes, and rivers, are strongly dependent on each other. They form complex ecosystems in the water column and the sediments below. These ecosystems are vulnerable to environmental changes. We apply molecular tools to map biodiversity and food web interactions and investigate how aquatic ecosystems are affected by such changes - today and in the past.

The research group offers competence and knowledge in marine ecology, deep-sea biology, molecular ecology, and paleo-genomics and -oceanography.

We apply qualitative and quantitative molecular techniques, flow cytometry, palynology, and geochemistry to address basic and applied research questions.

Our current projects are connected to polar regions, deep sea habitats, shelf-, coastal- and fjord areas, as well as rivers and lakes.

We are always excited by new research opportunities. Feel free to contact us if you want to know more or wish to collaborate with us.

Aud Larsen

Molecular Ecology and Paleogenomics - MEP Research Director Molecular Ecology - Bergen

+47 56 10 74 24

The Molecular Ecology and Paleogenomics research group (MEP) aims at enhancing the knowledge about aquatic communities and processes.

  • We work to increase the understanding of interactions between organisms making up aquatic food webs and investigate how they respond to environmental changes.
  • By using a combination of state-of-the-art environmental DNA (eDNA) methodology and morphological taxonomy, we investigate seafloor and water column organism, communities and ecosystems for biodiversity patterns and trace human impact from oil and gas extraction, aquaculture, marine minerals, and climate change.
  • We apply ancient DNA from sediments (sedaDNA) to reconstruct past biodiversity changes and, in combination with polar paleo-oceanography, for sea ice reconstructions.


Most of MEP´s projects are connected to marine environments including fjords, coastal waters, open oceans, and deep seas. Our activities range from low (Pacific Ocean) to high (Arctic, Antarctic) latitudes and we operate in the pelagic as well as in sediments. We also apply our competences to explore fish communities in lakes and rivers.

Experts on the use of molecular tools

MEP has expertise in applying molecular tools to describe community composition and food web interactions. The tools comprise qualitative (metabarcoding) and quantitative (qPCR, ddPCR, metagenomics, metatranscriptomics) methodologies and various flow cytometric techniques (analytical, sorting, and imaging flow cytometry).

We have expertise in morphological taxonomy and use this in combination with state-of-the-art eDNA to investigate seafloor and water column organism communities and ecosystems for biodiversity patterns.

The group have expertise in marine palynology (dinoflagellate cysts), and work with inorganic (stable isotopes and Mg/Ca of foraminifers) and organic (biomarkers) geochemistry.

The research group comprises paleo-oceanographers as well as ecologists.

Pelagic Food Webs

MEP investigates interactions in the marine pelagic food web (fish, zoo- phytoplankton (algae), heterotrophic flagellates, bacteria, virus) and apply molecular tools to detect and quantify organisms and processes.

We explore ecological implications of zooplankton grazing on algal viruses and try to understand how mixotrophy (phytoplankton eating bacteria) is affected by current climate changes. We have demonstrated how DNA based methodology can be used to detect and quantify grazing at different levels of the marine food web.

We take part in interdisciplinary projects with the overall aim to comprehend consequences of changes in sea ice conditions for the entire ecosystem.

We apply our e-DNA expertise to investigate seasonal and production-dependent variability of salmon pathogens in waters around fish farms in Western Norway.

Community Composition in Sediments – Modern and Historical Times

We work together with industry partners to find out how we can apply molecular methods such as metabarcoding and quantitative PCR to improve impact assessments around oil-, gas- and offshore wind installations and activity. We are a preferred partner for several consortia when it comes to baseline studies of the deep-sea biodiversity aimed at assessing the long-term impacts of mining on the deep-sea environment.

We use similar approaches for investigating the genetic signature from surface water and sea ice organisms that are archived in sediments to develop environmental ancient DNA (sedaDNA) as a novel proxy for sea ice cover reconstructions and past biodiversity patterns. This has placed us at the forefront of marine paleogenomics and we have established a state-of-the-art laboratory in Bergen for this purpose. We work along the same lines investigating the Nordic Seas and Norwegian fjords to assess their resilience to climate change (local impact).

eDNA for environmental management purposes

Besides developing molecular tools improve impact assessments around oil-, gas- and offshore wind installations, MEP is actively taking part in the development of environmental DNA (eDNA) for fish stock assessment, invasive species detection (like the American lobster (Homarus americanus) and round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) and monitoring vulnerable habitats (like the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusaand the relict Salmo salar Byglandsbleke).

We interact with the Norwegian Environment Agency and contribute to relevant reports and White Papers.


Meet the Team

Adria Antich González

Post Doc - Bergen
+47 56 10 75 02

Agnes Weiner

Senior Researcher - Bergen
+47 56 10 75 07

Danielle Grant

Research Fellow - Bergen
+47 56 10 75 71

Dylan Shea

Post doc - Bergen
+47 56 10 74 54

Jon Thomassen Hestetun

Senior Researcher - Bergen
+47 56 10 74 15

Katja Häkli

Senior Engineer, Molecular Ecology Group - Bergen
+47 56 10 74 38

Kyle Mayers

Senior Researcher - Bergen
+47 56 10 74 28

Kristine Steinsland

Researcher - Bergen
+47 56 10 75 70

Miriam Isabelle Brandt

Post doc - Bergen
+47 56 10 74 53

Nele Manon Vollmar

PhD fellow - Bergen
+47 56 10 74 55

Sigrid Mugu

Chief Engineer Molecular Ecology - Bergen
+47 56 10 75 72

Stijn De Schepper

Research Professor - Bergen
+47 56 10 75 50

Thomas Gunnar Dahlgren

Research Professor - Bergen
+47 56 10 74 48

Tristan Cordier

Senior Researcher - Bergen
+47 56 10 75 13

See more projects

Related Stories

See all news