Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Robotic environmental DNA bio-surveillance of freshwater health

September 1, 2020

Autonomous water sampling technologies may help to overcome the human resource challenges of monitoring biological threats to rivers over long time periods and large geographic areas. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute has pioneered a robotic Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) that overcomes some of the constraints associated with traditional sampling since it can automate water sample filtration and preservation of the captured material or homogenize it for immediate analyses in situ. The ESP was originally developed for marine environment applications. Here we evaluated whether the ESP can provide reliable, timely information on environmental (e)DNA detections of human and fish pathogens and introduced fishes at U.S. Geological Survey streamgage sites in freshwater rivers. We compared eDNA collected via ESP at high frequency (e.g., every 3 h) with manual eDNA collections collected at lower frequency (e.g., weekly). We found that water samples filtered and preserved by ESPs successfully detected the DNA of human pathogens, fish pathogens and introduced fishes. Both ESP and manually collected samples provided similar information about target DNA presence. We suggest that the greatest current benefit of the ESP is the cost savings of high frequency, bio-surveillance at remote or hard to access sites. The full potential of robotic technologies like the ESP will be realized when they can more easily execute in situ analyses of water samples and rapidly transmit results to decision-makers.

Publication Year 2020
Title Robotic environmental DNA bio-surveillance of freshwater health
DOI 10.1038/s41598-020-71304-3
Authors Adam J. Sepulveda, Jim M. Birch, Elliott Barnhart, Christopher M. Merkes, Kevan Yamahara, Roman III Marin, Stacy Kinsey, Peter R. Wright, Christian Schmidt
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Scientific Reports
Index ID 70212985
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center