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Influence of sediment and stream transport on detecting a source of environmental DNA

December 28, 2020

Environmental DNA (eDNA) can be used for early detection, population estimations, and assessment of potential spread of invasive species, but questions remain about factors that influence eDNA detection results. Efforts are being made to understand how physical, chemical, and biological factors—settling, resuspension, dispersion, eDNA stability/decay—influence eDNA estimations and potentially population abundance. In a series of field and controlled mesocosm experiments, we examined the detection and accumulation of eDNA in sediment and water and the transport of eDNA in a small stream in the Lake Michigan watershed, using the invasive round goby fish (Neogobius melanostomus) as a DNA source. Experiment 1: caged fish (average n = 44) were placed in a stream devoid of round goby; water was collected over 24 hours along 120-m of stream, including a simultaneous sampling event at 7 distances from DNA source; stream monitoring continued for 24 hours after fish were removed. Experiment 2: round goby were placed in laboratory tanks; water and sediment were collected over 14 days and for another 150 days post-fish removal to calculate eDNA shedding and decay rates for water and sediment. For samples from both experiments, DNA was extracted, and qPCR targeted a cytochrome oxidase I gene (COI) fragment specific to round goby. Results indicated that eDNA accumulated and decayed more slowly in sediment than water. In the stream, DNA shedding was markedly lower than calculated in the laboratory, but models indicate eDNA could potentially travel long distances (up to 50 km) under certain circumstances. Collectively, these findings show that the interactive effects of ambient conditions (e.g., eDNA stability and decay, hydrology, settling-resuspension) are important to consider when developing comprehensive models. Results of this study can help resource managers target representative sites downstream of potential invasion sites, thereby maximizing resource use.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title Influence of sediment and stream transport on detecting a source of environmental DNA
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0244086
Authors Meredith B. Nevers, Katarzyna Przybyla-Kelly, Dawn A. Shively, Charles C. Morris, Joshua Dickey, Muruleedhara Byappanahalli
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title PLoS ONE
Index ID 70217119
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center