Environmental DNA sampling in a terrestrial environment: methods to detect a critically endangered frog and a global pathogen

Burns, Thomas, Clemann, N, van Rooyen, AR, Scheele, BC, Weeks, AR and Driscoll, DA 2020, Environmental DNA sampling in a terrestrial environment: methods to detect a critically endangered frog and a global pathogen, BioRxiv, doi: 10.1101/2020.03.01.968693.

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Title Environmental DNA sampling in a terrestrial environment: methods to detect a critically endangered frog and a global pathogen
Author(s) Burns, ThomasORCID iD for Burns, Thomas orcid.org/0000-0003-0408-8014
Clemann, N
van Rooyen, AR
Scheele, BC
Weeks, AR
Driscoll, DA
Journal name BioRxiv
Publisher Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Publication date 2020
Summary Environmental DNA techniques have become established as a useful tool for biological monitoring and are used extensively to determine species presence in aquatic systems. However, their application in terrestrial systems has been more limited, likely in part due to difficulties in choosing where to sample and ensuring that collected DNA reflects current species presence. We developed methods to sample eDNA in the terrestrial environment and trialled them under controlled and field conditions. We targeted three species, an elusive critically endangered frog, an abundant non-threatened frog, and the globally distributed amphibian skin pathogen chytrid fungus, which has been implicated in the decline of over 500 amphibian species. We used a sandpaper-sampling surface to ‘trap’ DNA. After sampling, we washed the surface and filtered the wash water to gather material for DNA extraction and subsequent qPCR. Our controlled condition experiments demonstrated that frog and chytrid fungus DNA was detectable after as few as five contacts between a frog and the sampling surface. Furthermore, this DNA remained detectable after two weeks in cool, shaded, outdoor conditions. Our field experiments demonstrated that these techniques were transferable to natural habitats, where we detected both the common and rare amphibian target species, as well as chytrid fungus. Field sampling eDNA results were broadly consistent with those derived from conventional survey methods. Our methods have potential application in non-invasive sampling of amphibians and other species in terrestrial systems, broadening the applicability of eDNA techniques for species detection and monitoring.
Language eng
DOI 10.1101/2020.03.01.968693
Indigenous content off
HERDC Research category CN Other journal article
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30142527

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