• Press Release

World's First Open Database of Environmental DNA Big Data Opens

Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University
NYK Line
Kinkai Yusen Kaisha Ltd.
Town of Minamisanriku
Earthwatch Japan

ANEMONE DB,* an open big-data database of fish biodiversity specialized to environmental DNA (eDNA)** survey, opened on June 2. The database is being managed by Dr. Michio Kondoh, a professor at the Graduate School of Life Sciences at Tohoku University, and supported by NYK Line, NYK Group company Kinkai Yusen Kaisha Ltd., the town of Minamisanriku, and Earthwatch Japan (hereinafter “parties”).

Project Outline

Using eDNA collected from the sea and river waters, ANEMONE DB accumulates survey results on fish living in water areas. This database opened to the public from June 2 and is the world’s first*** compilation of eDNA-specialized biodiversity monitoring data openly released to the public.
Activity plan for widening the sampling range of eDNA and expanding data:
・Seawater sampling on commercial ocean routes of NYK Line and Kinkai Yusen Kaisha Ltd. will be conducted once a month from this summer.
・Earthwatch Japan will conduct surveys by citizen volunteers at 50 locations in fiscal 2022 and 100 locations in fiscal 2023.
In the town of Minamisanriku, fish surveys will be conducted to research the effects of global warming and detect the appearance of southern species in Shizugawa Bay.
Parties will establish the ANEMONE Consortium as the management body to widely educate the public about the utilization of eDNA.

ANEMONE DB website

Seawater sampling will be performed by Mashiu, a vessel operated by Kinkai Yusen Kaisha Ltd.

ANEMONE DB Background

In recent years, while the loss of biodiversity due to human activities has progressed, the international trend of nature positive**** to put the natural environment on a recovery trend has been spreading.

However, it has been a long-standing challenge to establish a method for efficiently investigating a wide range from the conventional method that relies on capture because enormous labor and cost are required to conduct biological surveys to grasp the current state of nature.

Environmental DNA, or eDNA, is an innovative method***** for biological survey that reveals the types and distribution of living organisms that exist from a bucket of water and its core technology for fish survey was developed in Japan. Established in Japan, ANEMONE DB is a database based on eDNA and is expected to be used in a wide range of industries as a "weather map of living things." Since 2017, it has been constructed as big data comprising environmental DNA from fish surveys, which have been conducted 4,298 times at 861 locations around Japan by researchers and 200 citizen volunteers.

This database was developed and operated under the supervision of Dr. Michio Kondoh, a professor at the Graduate School of Life Sciences at Tohoku University. The database was opened to the public from June 2 as the result of an accumulation of sufficient data.

It is the first time that a dedicated database storing eDNA survey data has been created and opened to the public as open data.

<Viewing screen of environmental DNA analysis results>
The fish species (scientific name) in which DNA was detected is displayed.
Specifications are displayed in a size according to the detected amount.


Open to the public from June 2, 2022
Website: https://db.anemone.bio/
Observation network Environmental DNA observation network in which universities, national research institutes, municipalities, and corporations from all over Japan participate
(Collaboration with University of Tsukuba and Kazusa DNA Research Institute. under the leadership of Dr. Kondoh of Tohoku University)
Observation results
(Implemented from 2019)
Survey locations: 861; number of surveys: 4,298; detected fish species: 885
Of the above, fixed-point observations were conducted at 77 points (55 coasts, 18 rivers, 4 lakes and marshes)
Main observation results The result of the spread of the wide-area ecosystem visualized by the ANEMONE observation network (at the trial stage of ANEMONE DB)
・Due to the effects of global warming, the movement of fish distribution to the north and changes in fisheries
・Successful capture of wide-area fluctuations such as the changing of the distribution of Japan coastal fish species
・Demonstration of the usefulness of high-precision ecosystem big data in fishery resource management
Assumed applications ・Basic data for selecting natural protection areas and confirming the effects of natural regeneration activities for the recovery of biodiversity
・Data for setting up AI to discover new fishing grounds and promote sustainable use of fishery resources
・Basic data used to elucidate the scientific balance of nature

Recent Activity Plan

Companies and organizations that have been participating in activities from the beginning are planning the following activities for sampling of environmental DNA and utilization of the ANEMONE DB.

The ANEMONE Consortium plans to expand its activities in cooperation with various companies and organizations.

<Environmental DNA sampling survey and activity plan for utilization of database>

① NYK Group (NYK Line and Kinkai Yusen Kaisha Ltd.)

In 2021, NYK Line collected seawater from the open sea and succeeded for the first time in detecting DNA of 158 fish species together with Tohoku University and Hokkaido University. The NYK Group will continue to plan the following research activities and contribute to the expansion of the ANEMONE DB data and survey territories.

Activity category Seawater sampling along the coast of Japan (acquisition of environmental DNA from ocean seawater)
Activity outline Seawater sampling is performed along the commercial ocean routes of the vessel Mashiu, which conducts a liner service between the Hitachinaka port (Ibaraki prefecture) and the Tomakomai port (Hokkaido). The ship is operated by Kinkai Yusen Kaisha Ltd., and sampled seawater is provided to Hokkaido University. Analysis results are released on the ANEMONE DB.
Implementation period From the summer of 2022, seawater sampling will be conducted once a month. The amount of each sampling will be about 30 liters.
Further information Overview of Mashiu
Gross tonnage: 11,229 T; LOA: 179.90 m; Service speed: 23.0 knots
Route: Hitachinaka port – Tomakomai port; Sailing time (one way): about 20 hours

Survey by citizen volunteer

② Earthwatch Japan

Earthwatch Japan is thrilled to cooperate with the environmental DNA sampling surveys since 2020 in collaboration with scientists and citizen volunteers. During 2020-2021 period, citizens contributed to identify 632 fish species at 146 locations throughout Japan. Survey locations are planned to expand from 41 in 2020 to 100 in 2023.

Activity category National simultaneous environmental DNA survey by citizen volunteers (acquired environmental DNA from coastal area surveys all over Japan)
Activity outline With the support of Kakaku.com Inc. and academic experts such as Dr. Michio Kondoh, Earthwatch Japan has been conducting continuous surveys since 2020. The institute has also introduced a unique survey kit that allows the general public to easily collect environmental DNA, and many citizen volunteers are participating.
Implementation period In July-August 2022, Earthwatch Japan plans to conduct a simultaneous survey conducted by about 100 citizen volunteers at 50 locations nationwide. The analysis results will be shared with the participants and educational activities will be conducted to deepen the understanding of biodiversity. In 2023, Earthwatch Japan plans to conduct seawater sampling surveys at more than 100 locations.
Further information The national simultaneous environmental DNA survey is conducted with the support of the following academic experts.
Akihide Kasai (professor of Graduate School of Marine Bioresource and Environmental Science at Hokkaido University)
Reiji Masuda (professor of Field Science Education and Research Center at Kyoto University)
Satoquo Seino (associate professor of Faculty of Engineering at Kyushu University)

Rabbitfish captured in town of Minamisanriku

③ Town of Minamisanriku (Miyagi prefecture)

In Shizugawa Bay, which borders the coast of the town of Minamisanriku, changes in the migration of fish species due to the effects of global warming have begun to be confirmed in recent years. Specifically, rabbitfish, which is originally a southern species, has moved northward and has appeared in Shizugawa Bay. There is also concern that the wakame seaweed that is being cultivated will be cut off by rabbitfish. Town of minamisanriku has a policy of utilizing the ANEMONE DB to grasp the current situation of migratory changes and examine countermeasures.
Town of Minamisanriku also believes that this environmental DNA database from all over Japan will be effectively utilized at local fishing sites, so town of Minamisanriku is taking the initiative in promoting its utilization.

Establishment of Consortium and Future Activity Policy

The ANEMONE Consortium was established on June 1 to strengthen the management system of ANEMONE DB and to raise social awareness of nature-positive thinking. In the future, this consortium will take the lead in enlightening activities such as seminars to promote the utilization of ANEMONE DB and by setting up working groups for sharing specialized knowledge. Through educational activities for a wide range of industries and citizens, the ANEMONE Consortium has a plan to expand to 100 companies/organizations by the end of March 2023.

Outline of ANEMONE Consortium

Establishment date
ANEMONE Consortium
Establishment date: June 1, 2022
Representative Dr. Michio Kondoh, professor, Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University
Headquarter 6-3, Aoba, Aramaki, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8578 Japan
Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University
Common philosophy and purpose Common Philosophy: Realization of a natural symbiotic society utilizing advanced biodiversity information
Purpose (1): Efforts to achieve Nature Positive
Purpose (2): Development and dissemination of environmental DNA technology
Purpose (3): Establishing the foundation of ANEMONE DB
Initiating members
(in no particular order)
13 companies/groups, 4 individuals
Tohoku University, Earthwatch Japan, NYK Line, Tohoku Ryokka Kankyohozen Co., Ltd., Kakaku.com, Inc., The Ecological Society of Japan, The Environmental DNA Society, Center for Sustainable Society, Kazusa DNA Research Institute., Japan Long-Term Ecological Research Network (JaLTER),
Japanese Association for Marine Biology (JAMBIO), Kanagawa Environmental Research Center, Town of Minamisanriku, Keigo Nakamura (Japan RiverFront Research Center), Natsuko Kondo (National Institute for Environmental Studies), Jun Nishihiro (Center for Climate Change Adaption, National Institute for Environmental Studies), Masakazu Hori (Japan Fisheries Research and Education Agency)

* ANEMONE (All Nippon eDNA Monitoring Network) is a network for biodiversity observation using environmental DNA. In the large-scale project research, which gave birth to the main technology of environmental DNA, the development of quantitative monitoring of fish communities and an ecosystem evaluation method based on environmental DNA analysis under the guidance of Dr. Michio Kondoh occurred along the national coast from 2017. Since 2019, Tohoku University, the University of Tsukuba, and the Kazusa DNA Research Institute have played a central role and conducted environmental DNA surveys in environments that cover coasts, rivers, and lakes throughout Japan with the cooperation of universities, national research institutes, government agencies, and citizen volunteers. In addition to regular observations at 77 observation stations, from 2020, about 200 citizens participated in the surveys at 146 sites. Since 2017, 4,298 surveys have been conducted, and 885 fish species have been detected.

** Environmental DNA refers to DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) derived from living organisms that exists in the environment such as water and soil. Organisms leave traces of their DNA in the environment along with dung and mucus. In recent years, technology (environmental DNA technology) for knowing the types of organisms living there by extracting and analyzing biological DNA from water and soil collected in the field has greatly developed. The environmental DNA technology requires far less workload at the survey site than traditional biological survey methods that rely on capture and direct observation. Therefore, environmental DNA technology is attracting attention as an epoch-making method for realizing multi-point and high-frequency biological surveys, which was not easy with conventional survey methods.

*** Research by Professor Kondoh and ANEMONE officials

**** Activities and ways of thinking to increase the natural environment to prevent biodiversity damage

***** The MiFish method (a comprehensive analysis method for fish) used in environmental DNA surveys was
developed in Japan.

Comments from representatives of companies and organizations related to ANEMONE DB

  • Deterioration of ecosystems and biodiversity has progressed, and this has become a universal issue that needs to be addressed immediately. Japan has developed and nurtured a culture by receiving the blessings of abundant nature. We collect biodiversity information in this northeastern region, which is the center of the primary industry blessed with nature, and make it available to everyone by supporting and collaborating with industry, government, academia, and the private sector. We would like to promote the utilization of valuable data for nature. Humans live in both nature and society. We would like to contribute to the creation of a system in which nature and society, which are the foundations of humankind, can support each other's affluence.
    Representative of ANEMONE Consortium
    Dr. Michio Kondoh
    Professor, Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University
  • The NYK Group has integrated ESG into its management strategy and is continuing and accelerating various efforts to resolve social issues. We believe that one of these efforts, "Return on Earth," is an important mission that should be fulfilled by the NYK Group, which does business in the oceans of the world and around Japan. It is a great honor for NYK Group vessels to contribute to basic research to unravel the unknown of the marine environment. As a member of the ANEMONE Consortium, the NYK Group aims to realize a nature-positive society in harmony with nature.
    Masahiro Takahashi, Executive Officer, NYK Line
    Tsuyoshi Endo, Managing Director, Kinkai Yusen Kaisha Ltd
  • The town of Minamisanriku is rich in nature, but in recent years, the effects of global warming have begun to be seen in fisheries. For example, the amount of salmon catches has fallen catastrophically. It is necessary to face and respond to changes as soon as possible, and for that purpose, continuous monitoring that captures changes in the ecosystem is indispensable. We have great expectations for environmental DNA surveys that anyone can work on in a simple way. We will continue to cooperate in conducting surveys and providing data in order to realize the "town that coexists with nature" that the town of Minamisanriku aims for.
    Jin Sato, Mayor, Town of Minamisanriku
  • Within this consortium, Earthwatch Japan is responsible for recruiting citizen volunteers and teaching them how to conduct surveys and how to use the kit. This time, as many as 632 species of fish were identified at 139 points selected by the citizens themselves. This achievement shows that citizens can be a great force in obtaining scientific data on marine biodiversity, and this can be said to be a successful example of citizen participation toward the achievement of the SDGs. Our surveys have been supported by Kakaku.com, Inc.
    Tetsuro Urabe, Chairman, Earthwatch Japan

<Profile of ANEMONE DB Organizer / ANEMONE Consortium Representative>
Dr. Michio Kondoh, professor, Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University

Ph.D. (Science) Kyoto University, 2001. After serving as a lecturer, associate professor, and professor at Ryukoku University, he assumed his current position in 2018. He is President of the eDNA Society, Director of the Ecological Society of Japan, and Director of the Society of Population Ecology. Awarded with The Young Scientists’ Prize (MEXT, 2013), The Akira Okubo Prize (Society for Mathematical Biology [US] & Japanese Society of Ecology, 2011), The JSMB Young Scholar Award (Japanese Society of Mathematical Biology, 2009), Miyadi Award (Ecological Society of Japan, 2004).


Public Relations Office, Earthwatch Japan
Phone:+81-80-7834-084 / E-mail: fnaganuma@asteria.com

Public Relations Office, Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University
Phone:+81-22-217-6193 / E-mail: lifsci-pr@grp.tohoku.ac.jp

Media Relation Team, Corporate Communication Group, NYK Line
Phone:+81-3-3284-5177 / E-mail: NYKJP.ML.MEDIA@nykgroup.com

Nature Center, Town of Minamisanriku
Phone:+81-226-25-9703/ E-mail:suisan@town.minamisanriku.miyagi.jp

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