Detection of aquatic macroorganisms using environmental DNA
LEECG researchers: Caren Goldberg, Stephen Spear, Lisette Waits
UI collaborators: Katherine Strickler and Alexander Fremier
We have recently expanded the research capacity of the LEECG to include studies of environmental DNA (eDNA), where we use DNA found in wetlands, rivers, and streams to detect aquatic macroorganisms. We built on the established expertise of the LEECG in analyzing low-quality DNA samples to establish this program developing new methods and applications in eDNA research. Our pilot work in this field (Goldberg et al. 2011) demonstrated that it is possible to detect rare stream-breeding amphibians by identifying their eDNA in streamwater with high detection probabilities and we are continuing to work in this system testing different collection and analysis techniques. Our projects now include developing and demonstrating eDNA techniques for monitoring amphibian, aquatic reptile, mudsnail, and fish populations in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Montana, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington. Our collaborators on these projects include the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, Department of Defense, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Lee University, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, North Carolina Zoo, The Orianne Society, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, University of Georgia, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Yakima Basin Fish and Wildlife Recovery Board, and USGS. A fact sheet we are developing with USGS on eDNA techniques is available here. More information about our work with the Department of Defense can be found here.