Asian Carp and eDNA

In 2009 a team of scientists from the University of Notre Dame and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) discovered that two species of highly invasive Asian Carp were much closer to the Great Lakes than federal and state officials had realized. Those two species, bighead carp and silver carp, have already done extensive environmental damage to the Illinois River—and much of the Mississippi River—by completely altering the food web in sections of those two major watersheds. There has been enormous concern throughout the region that if Asian carp entered the Great Lakes they could severely impair the lakes’ $7 billion annual sport and commercial fishing industries.

Scientists from Notre Dame and The Nature Conservancy located the Asian carp invasion through a cutting-edge technique called “environmental DNA” or “eDNA.” From the summer of 2009 through May of 2010, those scientists collected and analyzed more than 1,000 two-liter water samples from the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal, as well as other water bodies in the Chicago metropolitan area. Then, using a combination of high-tech genetic tools, they sifted those samples to find traces of eDNA from all sorts of species, including Asian carp.

In addition to showing that the invasive fish were much closer to the Great Lakes than people believed, the research showed that eDNA is superior to traditional methods for locating and monitoring aquatic species invasions. While so far the eDNA technology has only been used on alien species like Asian carp, Notre Dame’s scientists believe that the eDNA methodology has strong promise in endangered species detection and monitoring as well. The scientists’ work has now been expanded to a search for Asian carp eDNA throughout large swaths of the Great Lakes watershed.

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Study shows Asian carp could establish in Lake Erie with little effect to fishery

August 07, 2014 • Author: William G. Gilroy • Categories: Asian Carp and eDNA

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If bighead and silver carp were to establish in Lake Erie, local fish biomass is not likely to change beyond observations recorded in the last three decades, according to a study published in the journal Conservation Biology on Thursday (Aug. 6) by a group of scientists from the University of Notre Dame, Resources for the Future, U.S. Forest Service, University of Michigan and the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Laboratory.

Biologist David Lodge named Jefferson Science Fellow

July 09, 2014 • Author: William G. Gilroy • Categories: Asian Carp and eDNA , Environmental Genomics, and Transportation Networks, Climate Change, and the Spread of Invasive Species


David Lodge, Ludmilla F. and Stephen J. Galla Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame and a world-renowned expert on invasive species, has been named a 2014-15 Jefferson Science Fellow

Can we eat away invasive species? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try

June 17, 2014 • Author: Hannah Newman • Categories: Asian Carp and eDNA and Transportation Networks, Climate Change, and the Spread of Invasive Species

EATING TO EXTINCTIONlionfish_sushi_roll


My quest to understand invasivorism began with a plate of lionfish tacos in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The dish is a staple on the menu at Norman’s Cay

Hunting for Asian carp by what they left behind

June 05, 2014 • Author: Eric Sharp • Categories: Asian Carp and eDNA

Think of it as CSI for fish.

Like the crime scene investigators on television detective shows, fisheries scientists are relying on a technique called eDNA (environmental DNA) to search the Great Lakes for evidence of Asian carp that are too sparsely spread to be captured by electrofishing, netting or poisoning.…

Business Owners, Anglers Work to Prevent Spread of Invasive Species Through Bait Trade

June 03, 2014 • Author: Healthy Lakes • Categories: Asian Carp and eDNA and Environmental Genomics

lucas_300x225 features the success of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant, a grant allowing researchers from the University of Notre Dame and Central Michigan University to quantify the prevalence of invasives in the bait trade. The researchers collected samples of tank water from 525 bait shops across the Great Lakes states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. They then genetically screened these samples for the presence of six invasive fish species (bighead carp; silver carp; round goby; tubenose goby; rudd; and goldfish) by searching for their unique DNA sequences amongst the environmental DNA, or eDNA. eDNA screenings are much more efficient than traditional visual screenings, and make searching for individual juvenile invasives amongst thousands of minnows feasible.

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