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DNA Centre of Excellence

JNCC’s new Terrestrial Biodiversity Evidence Strategy highlights the importance of 'developing capacity in biodiversity recording', including an objective 'to evaluate and apply new technologies'. The use of DNA technologies to better sample and understand species populations is an approach with great potential. JNCC participates in the DNA Centre of Excellence, joining together with experts across the Defra group to provide leadership in this area.

Logo for the DNA Centre of Excellence


Centres of Excellence are increasingly common initiatives across a range of business, academic and research sectors. Within the Defra group, the DNA CoE is a cross-cutting community and virtual team of experts who provide a focal point of leadership for DNA technology uptake, deployment and utilisation.

The DNA CoE will champion the uptake of DNA-based tools for monitoring the environment to inform its management and regulation. It will:

  • Realise the potential of DNA-based methods to help us understand and manage our changing environment, and support improvements in the regulatory systems for food and waste.
  • Integrate these methods with other new technologies (e.g. Earth observation, Data Science) to build capability and contribute to the government’s 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment.
  • Tackle the shared barriers to change and lead the building of skills, capability and confidence in DNA-based monitoring methodology to nurture the culture required for successful deployment.



The DNA CoE has three main objectives:

  • Building capability and capacity across the Defra group. It will enhance capacity and knowledge of DNA-based technologies, lead and support knowledge-sharing initiatives and drive the development of bioinformatics and data skills, knowledge & infrastructure. 
  • Influencing, engaging and collaborating. It will develop opportunities for partnerships and UK-wide projects, influence external funding bodies by articulating priorities to leverage additional funding and facilitate collaboration across the Defra group.
  • Operational development of DNA technology. It will accelerate the translation of innovation into effective operational delivery.



The DNA CoE is comprised of the following partners:

  • Animal & Plant Health Agency
  • Defra
  • Environment Agency
  • Forest Research
  • Forestry England
  • JNCC
  • Kew
  • Marine Management Organisation
  • Natural England


Published: .

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