Friday, January 9, 2015

All about eDNA

The discovery that macroorganisms can be detected from their environmental DNA (eDNA) in aquatic systems has immense potential for the conservation of biological diversity. This special issue contains 11 papers that review and advance the field of eDNA detection of vertebrates and other macroorganisms, including studies of eDNA production, transport, and degradation; sample collection and processing to maximize detection rates; and applications of eDNA for conservation using citizen scientists. This body of work is an important contribution to the ongoing efforts to take eDNA detection of macroorganisms from technical breakthrough to established, reliable method that can be used in survey, monitoring, and research applications worldwide.

A new special issue of Biological Conservation contains eleven papers focusing on techniques for analyzing eDNA samples, eDNA production and degradation in the environment and the laboratory, as well as practical applications of eDNA techniques in detecting and managing endangered fish and amphibians:

Moving environmental DNA methods from concept to practice for monitoring aquatic macroorganisms

- Environmental DNA – An emerging tool in conservation for monitoring past and present biodiversity

- Quantifying effects of UV-B, temperature, and pH on eDNA degradation in aquatic microcosms

- Characterizing the distribution of an endangered salmonid using environmental DNA analysis

Using eDNA to develop a national citizen science-based monitoring programme for the great crested 
   newt (Triturus cristatus)

Monitoring the near-extinct European weather loach in Denmark based on environmental DNA from 
   water samples

The effect of dilution and the use of a post-extraction nucleic acid purification column on the 
   accuracy, precision, and inhibition of environmental DNA samples

- Quantification of eDNA shedding rates from invasive bighead carp Hypophthalmichthys nobilis and 
   silver carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix

Fish environmental DNA is more concentrated in aquatic sediments than surface water

Using environmental DNA methods to improve detectability in a hellbender (Cryptobranchus 
  alleganiensis) monitoring program

- Choice of capture and extraction methods affect detection of freshwater biodiversity from 
   environmental DNA

A must read for everyone interested in the application of eDNA. Papers that lead the way in advancing eDNA sampling, processing, analysis, and interpretation. My personal favorite is the paper on a monitoring project for the great crested newt in the United Kingdom. Not only do I have a soft spot for these little creatures but I also like projects that involve the public in research especially if it relates to conservation. The main message of the paper is that it worked very well and the authors conclude that eDNA is a highly effective survey method and could be used as the basis for a national great crested newt monitoring program.

Enjoy reading.

h/t Brad Zlotnik

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