MAR 25, 2020 11:42 AM PDT

What is eDNA?

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

What exactly is eDNA? It is environmental DNA that has underwent the next-generation sequencing and that has been ‘barcoded’ in a way that can helps scientist identity certain species of plants, insects and animals. The idea of eDNA has grown in the field of bio-monitoring.

"Traditionally, biomonitoring has relied on scientists setting traps and visually monitoring a certain area, counting the number of species, and then extrapolating that data to come up with regional analysis," Ms van der Heyde said. "Understandably, that method of data collecting is expensive, time consuming and challenging, especially when looking into remote areas of Australia, which often present a harsh climate.

eDNA can help provide effective and accurate assessments of biodiversity. Watch this video of earlier exploration of eDNA analysis:

"As animals and organisms interact with their environment, they leave behind traces of their DNA through things like droppings, skin cells, saliva, and pollen. When this DNA is found in the environment, it's known as environmental DNA, or eDNA.

"Our research looked in to the feasibility of using this eDNA as an additional tool for biomonitoring. Not only to see if this type of analysis could potentially make things a bit easier for biologists out in the field, but as well as providing researchers with more accurate field information then what they can visually identify."

Study authors have examined a wide range of ‘DNA pockets’ including soil samples, animal droppings, plant and insect material.

"We tested common environmental substrates including soil, bulk scat, bulk plant material, and bulk arthropods from pitfall traps and vane traps, using four eDNA barcoding assessments to detect a wide range of plants, vertebrates and arthropods," Ms van der Heyde said

"This study was the first of its kind to systematically test terrestrial substrates for eDNA, and it also was the first time that some of these particular substrates were analyzed.

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
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