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.
Marine Biosecurity Toolbox scientist Dr Ulla von Ammon joined the BLAKE Expedition and shared with the expedition team the eDNA tools, including the newly designed Cruising Speed Net, for detecting unwanted organisms in marine environments.
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.