Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, is the national collection-based research infrastructure for systematic and biodiversity research, with linked facilities at the Fungal Biodiversity Center CBS-KNAW and Utrecht University. The infrastructure provides the world’s fifth largest natural-history collection (also digitally accessible), and state of the art laboratories. These laboratories include morphological (e.g. SEM, TEM, CT), molecular (e.g. standard, Ion-Torrent, ancient DNA, DNA-barcoding), geological (e.g. spectrometers, X-Ray, nanoSims, FEG-EMP) and computational facilities (e.g. GIS, 3D, HPC) all set up towards research on the Tree of Life and bio- and geodiversity studies across the planet, integrating the latest morphological and molecular knowledge and methods.
The integrated plant, fungal, animal, fossil, rock and minerals collections managed by Naturalis are, with more than 42 million specimens, in the global top tier. The collections have global coverage with especially strong representation of the Tropical South East Asia, West and Central Africa, the Neotropics and Western Europe. Images and data of more than 9 million specimens have been digitized, with the remainder of the collection digitized on higher aggregation levels. To date, about 10 million digitized images and records are accessible via the Netherlands Biodiversity API, the Naturalis Bioportal, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and several other portals, thereby ensuring broad exposure and use. This unique collection is essential in our quest to understand life on our planet, but also to counter present biodiversity losses and to find solutions for a sustainable future.
The Naturalis research laboratories include molecular, morphological/imaging, culture and geological facilities and geographic information systems and bioinformatics capacities. The KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Centre (CBS-KNAW) and Naturalis jointly developed two facilities for DNA barcoding, one in Utrecht (fungi) and one in Leiden (plants, animals). Furthermore, Naturalis participates in the National facility for high-resolution in situ isotope and element analysis, Utrecht, with a Field Emission Gun-Electron MicroProbe (FEG-EMP), thereby completing the array of analytical capabilities for elemental and isotope surface analyses of geological samples and other materials in the micro to nano scale.
Naturalis is also a major natural history museum, receiving over 400,000 visitors per year, and with a strong program in public outreach, education and heritage presentations and other services on the internet. More than 40,000 primary and secondary school children visit our facilities each year to learn about Life on Earth in all its facets.