A fundamental challenge of managing aquatic ecosystems is the difficulty of detecting many aquatic organisms. No matter how hard they are to find, though, all organisms leave traces of themselves in the environment when they shed skin, excrete wastes, release gametes, or otherwise lose cells. Any of these materials can contain pieces of the organism’s DNA. Because of recent advances in molecular technology, we can now extract this DNA from water samples – which we call environmental DNA, or eDNA – and use it to infer the presence of target species or the composition of aquatic communities. Environmental DNA has tremendous potential to improve the way we detect, monitor, and manage aquatic species and ecosystems.
The technology for using eDNA to detect aquatic species and answer ecological questions is rapidly advancing, and applications of eDNA methods are increasingly varied and innovative. The eDNA toolkit is intended to bring together eDNA information and resources to help professionals, researchers, and the public to learn about the technology and its swiftly growing range of applications.
The eDNA toolkit provides a resource for anyone seeking to learn more about how eDNA methods work, how they’re being used for conserving and managing aquatic ecosystems, and how to incorporate them into programs for detecting, monitoring, and examining aquatic species. The site will be updated as new resources become available or existing protocols are revised. Check back often to see what’s new.
We welcome contact from researchers, practitioners, and laboratories who would like to add content to the eDNA toolkit, or from site users with suggestions for specific types of resources they’d like to see.
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This website was created with funding from the Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program