Sampling optimization for molecular biosecurity surveillance – results from an expedition onboard the Robert C. Seamans (SEA, Woods Hole)
Environmental DNA (eDNA) in combination with metabarcoding or real time PCR are promising approaches for marine non-indigenous species (NIS) detection. To maximize detection of rare biodiversity, plankton vertical or horizontal net tows are often used to concentrate eDNA signals over hundreds of liters of volume. The follow-up filtration step of the concentrated sample often becomes a bottleneck in the sample processing pipeline, requiring substantial time and effort. These sample collection and processing steps need to be optimized without affecting the performance of eDNA-based detection for wider end-user uptake and routine implementation for biosecurity surveillance.
With the experienced science teacher onboard we are aiming to develop an engaging educational toolkit that brings eDNA technologies into the classroom, introducing students to the cutting edge molecular technologies and building up a strong sense of kaitiakitanga for their local environment.
Welcome our new PhD researcher - Michelle Scriver. By answering critical questions regarding eDNA distribution in coastal waters and where, when, and how to sample, her project will contribute to optimized and more efficient detection of marine pests.