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Information for Researchers No. 22 | 11 May 2016
Priority Programme ”Taxon-Omics: New Approaches for Discovering and Naming Biodiversity“ (SPP 1991)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has established the Priority Programme „Taxon-Omics: New Approaches for Discovering and Naming Biodiversity” (SPP 1991). The programme is designed to run for six years; the present call invites proposals for the first three-year funding period.

Taxonomy is the science most directly relevant for documenting and understanding changes in biodiversity, whether from species loss or from species introduction. Over the past ten years, this field has undergone a major shift because of its move towards DNA-based data, which can readily be shared. Research in this Priority Programme encompasses modern taxonomic approaches to discover, name, and quantify organismal diversity as the basis for documenting, assessing, and mitigating changes in biodiversity. Research will focus on one or more of the following areas:

  • discovery and delimitation of species or other evolving units of interest, using modern approaches,
  • accelerating the naming process and generating updatable identification tools, descriptions, classifications, or monographs, and
  • efficient or novel use of natural history collections through automated image analysis, genetic or genomic data from historic specimens or living collections, or new ways of comparing and quantifying traits.

Projects addressing phylogenies, hybrid species, or eco-morphological traits relevant to taxonomy will fit into this Priority Programme as long as they use or develop novel empirical or analytical methods, as will research concerned with clarifying the meaning of the tens of thousands of existing, but poorly typified, names through modern methods.

The Priority Programme will bring together teams working on the systematics/taxonomy of animals, fungi, plants, or eukaryotic microorganisms. Hence, this call seeks proposals from researchers with demonstrated interest and expertise in the application of broad sets of systematic data, ranging from field collection to -omics-based or wet lab approaches, ideally with methods that could fruitfully be applied to different kingdoms. Projects eligible for this Priority Programme should include a strong molecular component, typically focussing on DNA-based data.

Along with their students and postdocs, the PIs will benefit from the annual Priority Programme meetings focussing on approaches to the discovery and understanding of organismal diversity, whether of plants, animals, fungi, or protists. A clearly outlined contribution to the training of the next generation of systematists will therefore be desirable, as will be a description of how the planned research would contribute to the future development of the field of taxonomy by employing broadly applicable new or improved approaches. A contribution to global initiatives and international collaboration is encouraged.

Interested researchers are invited to submit proposals for research projects, in English, no later than 14 September 2016 to the DFG. When writing the grant proposal, please consult the guidelines for DFG Priority Programmes (DFG form 50.05 – 07/15, part B) and follow the instructions for the preparations of project proposals (DFG form 54.01 – 06/14). To facilitate the work of reviewers, please name PDF documents as described on the last page of these instructions.

Proposals must be submitted via the DFG’s electronic submission system elan, selecting “SPP 1991”. If you are using the elan system for the first time, please note that you need to register yourself and your institutional addresses before being able to submit a proposal (it takes about two working days for the registration to be confirmed by DFG staff – only then it is possible to submit a proposal).

In addition, we ask you to send a short summary of the proposed research (applicant(s), preliminary title, plus a maximum of five lines of text) no later than 15 July 2016 by e-mail to the speaker (see below). These short summaries will be uploaded to the project website www.sysbot.de/taxonomics to allow for mutual information and coordination of applicants.

A review meeting with reviewers and applicants will probably be held in late 2016. The date and place will be communicated to the applicants after the submission of the proposals. The envisaged start of funding is early to mid-2017. The duration of the projects should be 36 months, and cannot exceed this period.

Successful applicants and their team members are expected to collaborate, for example through the exchange of students/postdocs or through methodological and knowledge exchange. They are also expected to attend the annual assemblies, and to actively participate in SPP workshops.

Further information

The Priority Programme’s website can be found at:

(User: taxa, Password: dfg2016ssr)

Please submit proposals electronically through the DFG’s elan portal:

The DFG forms 50.05 and 54.01 can be downloaded at:

Questions with regard to scientific contents should be directed to the speaker of the Priority Programme:

For administrative and formal inquiries please contact at the DFG: