eDNA Expands Species Surveys to Capture a More Complete Picture

Casting a genetic net, eDNA identified more marine vertebrates than traditional surveys but has its limits.

Tiny bits of DNA collected from waters off the West Coast allowed scientists to identify more species of marine vertebrates than traditional surveys with trawl nets. They also reflect environmental shifts such as unusual ocean temperatures that affect the organisms present, new research shows.

The findings publishedThe previous link is a link to Non-Federal government web site. Click to review NOAA Fisheries disclaimer. in Frontiers in Marine Science demonstrate that environmental DNA, or eDNA, can add valuable detail to longstanding marine surveys. They revealed the presence of important species that usually evade trawl nets such as great white sharks and salmon. Ongoing collection of eDNA can also help detect environmental changes when marine life shifts habitat with changes in the ocean, the study found.

Read the full article on the NOAA Fisheries website.

Contact: SWFSC Fisheries Ecology Division, Groundfish Analysis Team

(December 19, 2019)

Collecting water samples

Scientists lower a unit containing bottles to collect water samples that they will later analyze for the genetic signature of different marine species.
Photo by Collin Closek/Stanford University