Development of an Environmental Metagenetics Approach for Monitoring Aquatic Biodiversity  

  • Funded By: Department of Defense
  • ECI Investigators: David Lodge, Gary Lamberti & Michael Pfrender

Development of an Environmental Metagenetics Approach for Monitoring Aquatic Biodiversity  

The goal of this project is to develop novel and practical tools for estimating the biodiversity of aquatic systems, using environmental DNA (DNA shed from organisms). When nets, traps, electrofishing and other traditional monitoring tools for the detection of species are inefficient, impractical, or lacking, management groups are often left in a state of inaction or without accurate species information.  In these cases, rare species are often overlooked, leading to errors in inference about existing species richness and biodiversity for a given body of water. Recently, however, published work shows that the detection of rare species in aquatic systems can be successfully accomplished with molecular genetic detection tools at significantly higher detection probabilities than traditional methods.

This team of ND researchers is using molecular genetic tools to identify the presence of fish and amphibian species, especially species of management concern (e.g., invasive, threatened, endangered).  To better and more rapidly measure species richness and diversity in aquatic environments, the researchers are developing a series of protocols and techniques using three modern molecular tools, each of which provides more information about species richness and diversity: standard PCR, qPCR, and ultrasequencing.  This project will provide improved and more rapid environmental surveillance tools for quantifying species richness that will be transferred to federal partners for use in aquatic habitats on DoD installations.

 

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