Assessing vertebrate biodiversity in a kelp forest ecosystem using environmental DNA.
ABSTRACT: Preserving biodiversity is a global challenge requiring data on species' distribution and abundance over large geographic and temporal scales. However, traditional methods to survey mobile species' distribution and abundance in marine environments are often inefficient, environmentally destructive, or resource-intensive. Metabarcoding of environmental DNA (eDNA) offers a new means to assess biodiversity and on much larger scales, but adoption of this approach for surveying whole animal communities in large, dynamic aquatic systems has been slowed by significant unknowns surrounding error rates of detection and relevant spatial resolution of eDNA surveys. Here, we report the results of a 2.5 km eDNA transect surveying the vertebrate fauna present along a gradation of diverse marine habitats associated with a kelp forest ecosystem. Using PCR primers that target the mitochondrial 12S rRNA gene of marine fishes and mammals, we generated eDNA sequence data and compared it to simultaneous visual dive surveys. We find spatial concordance between individual species' eDNA and visual survey trends, and that eDNA is able to distinguish vertebrate community assemblages from habitats separated by as little as ~60 m. eDNA reliably detected vertebrates with low false-negative error rates (1/12 taxa) when compared to the surveys, and revealed cryptic species known to occupy the habitats but overlooked by visual methods. This study also presents an explicit accounting of false negatives and positives in metabarcoding data, which illustrate the influence of gene marker selection, replication, contamination, biases impacting eDNA count data and ecology of target species on eDNA detection rates in an open ecosystem.
Project description:Environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding has emerged as a potentially powerful tool to assess aquatic community structures. However, the method has hitherto lacked field tests that evaluate its effectiveness and practical properties as a biodiversity monitoring tool. Here, we evaluated the ability of eDNA metabarcoding to reveal fish community structures in species-rich coastal waters. High-performance fish-universal primers and systematic spatial water sampling at 47 stations covering ~11?km2 revealed the fish community structure at a species resolution. The eDNA metabarcoding based on a 6-h collection of water samples detected 128 fish species, of which 62.5% (40 species) were also observed by underwater visual censuses conducted over a 14-year period. This method also detected other local fishes (?23 species) that were not observed by the visual censuses. These eDNA metabarcoding features will enhance marine ecosystem-related research, and the method will potentially become a standard tool for surveying fish communities.
Project description:Environmental DNA (eDNA) is the DNA suspended in the environment (e.g., water column), which includes cells, gametes, and other material derived from but not limited to shedding of tissue, scales, mucus, and fecal matter. Amplifying and sequencing marker genes (i.e., metabarcoding) from eDNA can reveal the wide range of taxa present in an ecosystem through analysis of a single water sample. Metabarcoding of eDNA provides higher resolution data than visual surveys, aiding in assessments of ecosystem health. This study conducted eDNA metabarcoding of two molecular markers (cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) and 18S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes) to survey eukaryotic diversity across multiple trophic levels in surface water samples collected at three sites along the coral reef tract within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) during four research cruises in 2015. The 18S rRNA gene sequences recovered 785 genera while the COI gene sequences recovered 115 genera, with only 33 genera shared between the two datasets, emphasizing the complementarity of these marker genes. Community composition for both genetic markers clustered by month of sample collection, suggesting that temporal variation has a larger effect on biodiversity than spatial variability in the FKNMS surface waters. Sequences from both marker genes were dominated by copepods, but each marker recovered distinct phytoplankton groups, with 18S rRNA gene sequences dominated by dinoflagellates and COI sequences dominated by coccolithophores. Although eDNA samples were collected from surface waters, many benthic species such as sponges, crustaceans, and corals were identified. These results show the utility of eDNA metabarcoding for cataloging biodiversity to establish an ecosystem baseline against which future samples can be compared in order to monitor community changes.
Project description:Background:Effective biodiversity monitoring is fundamental in tracking changes in ecosystems as it relates to commercial, recreational, and conservation interests. Current approaches to survey coral reef ecosystems center on the use of indicator species and repeat surveying at specific sites. However, such approaches are often limited by the narrow snapshot of total marine biodiversity that they describe and are thus hindered in their ability to contribute to holistic ecosystem-based monitoring. In tandem, environmental DNA (eDNA) and next-generation sequencing metabarcoding methods provide a new opportunity to rapidly assess the presence of a broad spectrum of eukaryotic organisms within our oceans, ranging from microbes to macrofauna. Methods:We here investigate the potential for rapid universal metabarcoding surveys (RUMS) of eDNA in sediment samples to provide snapshots of eukaryotic subtropical biodiversity along a depth gradient at two coral reefs in Okinawa, Japan based on 18S rRNA. Results:Using 18S rRNA metabarcoding, we found that there were significant separations in eukaryotic community assemblages (at the family level) detected in sediments when compared across different depths ranging from 10 to 40 m (p = 0.001). Significant depth zonation was observed across operational taxonomic units assigned to the class Demospongiae (sponges), the most diverse class (contributing 81% of species) within the phylum Porifera; the oldest metazoan phylum on the planet. However, zonation was not observed across the class Anthozoa (i.e., anemones, stony corals, soft corals, and octocorals), suggesting that the former may serve as a better source of indicator species based on sampling over fine spatial scales and using this universal assay. Furthermore, despite their abundance on the examined coral reefs, we did not detect any octocoral DNA, which may be due to low cellular shedding rates, assay sensitivities, or primer biases. Discussion:Overall, our pilot study demonstrates the importance of exploring depth effects in eDNA and suggest that RUMS may be applied to provide a baseline of information on eukaryotic marine taxa at coastal sites of economic and conservation importance.
Project description:DNA extraction from environmental samples (environmental DNA; eDNA) for metabarcoding-based biodiversity studies is gaining popularity as a noninvasive, time-efficient, and cost-effective monitoring tool. The potential benefits are promising for marine conservation, as the marine biome is frequently under-surveyed due to its inaccessibility and the consequent high costs involved. With increasing numbers of eDNA-related publications have come a wide array of capture and extraction methods. Without visual species confirmation, inconsistent use of laboratory protocols hinders comparability between studies because the efficiency of target DNA isolation may vary. We determined an optimal protocol (capture and extraction) for marine eDNA research based on total DNA yield measurements by comparing commonly employed methods of seawater filtering and DNA isolation. We compared metabarcoding results of both targeted (small taxonomic group with species-level assignment) and universal (broad taxonomic group with genus/family-level assignment) approaches obtained from replicates treated with the optimal and a low-performance capture and extraction protocol to determine the impact of protocol choice and DNA yield on biodiversity detection. Filtration through cellulose-nitrate membranes and extraction with Qiagen's DNeasy Blood & Tissue Kit outperformed other combinations of capture and extraction methods, showing a ninefold improvement in DNA yield over the poorest performing methods. Use of optimized protocols resulted in a significant increase in OTU and species richness for targeted metabarcoding assays. However, changing protocols made little difference to the OTU and taxon richness obtained using universal metabarcoding assays. Our results demonstrate an increased risk of false-negative species detection for targeted eDNA approaches when protocols with poor DNA isolation efficacy are employed. Appropriate optimization is therefore essential for eDNA monitoring to remain a powerful, efficient, and relatively cheap method for biodiversity assessments. For seawater, we advocate filtration through cellulose-nitrate membranes and extraction with Qiagen's DNeasy Blood & Tissue Kit or phenol-chloroform-isoamyl for successful implementation of eDNA multi-marker metabarcoding surveys.
Project description:Marine ecosystems worldwide are under threat with many fish species and populations suffering from human over-exploitation. This is greatly impacting global biodiversity, economy and human health. Intriguingly, marine fish are largely surveyed using selective and invasive methods, which are mostly limited to commercial species, and restricted to particular areas with favourable conditions. Furthermore, misidentification of species represents a major problem. Here, we investigate the potential of using metabarcoding of environmental DNA (eDNA) obtained directly from seawater samples to account for marine fish biodiversity. This eDNA approach has recently been used successfully in freshwater environments, but never in marine settings. We isolate eDNA from ½-litre seawater samples collected in a temperate marine ecosystem in Denmark. Using next-generation DNA sequencing of PCR amplicons, we obtain eDNA from 15 different fish species, including both important consumption species, as well as species rarely or never recorded by conventional monitoring. We also detect eDNA from a rare vagrant species in the area; European pilchard (Sardina pilchardus). Additionally, we detect four bird species. Records in national databases confirmed the occurrence of all detected species. To investigate the efficiency of the eDNA approach, we compared its performance with 9 methods conventionally used in marine fish surveys. Promisingly, eDNA covered the fish diversity better than or equal to any of the applied conventional methods. Our study demonstrates that even small samples of seawater contain eDNA from a wide range of local fish species. Finally, in order to examine the potential dispersal of eDNA in oceans, we performed an experiment addressing eDNA degradation in seawater, which shows that even small (100-bp) eDNA fragments degrades beyond detectability within days. Although further studies are needed to validate the eDNA approach in varying environmental conditions, our findings provide a strong proof-of-concept with great perspectives for future monitoring of marine biodiversity and resources.
Project description:Our understanding of marine communities and their functions in an ecosystem relies on the ability to detect and monitor species distributions and abundances. Currently, the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding is increasingly being applied for the rapid assessment and monitoring of aquatic species. Most eDNA metabarcoding studies have either focussed on the simultaneous identification of a few specific taxa/groups or have been limited in geographical scope. Here, we employed eDNA metabarcoding to compare beta diversity patterns of complex pelagic marine communities in tropical coastal shelf habitats spanning the whole Caribbean Sea. We screened 68 water samples using a universal eukaryotic COI barcode region and detected highly diverse communities, which varied significantly among locations, and proved good descriptors of habitat type and environmental conditions. Less than 15% of eukaryotic taxa were assigned to metazoans, most DNA sequences belonged to a variety of planktonic "protists," with over 50% of taxa unassigned at the phylum level, suggesting that the sampled communities host an astonishing amount of micro-eukaryotic diversity yet undescribed or absent from COI reference databases. Although such a predominance of micro-eukaryotes severely reduces the efficiency of universal COI markers to investigate vertebrate and other metazoans from aqueous eDNA, the study contributes to the advancement of rapid biomonitoring methods and brings us closer to a full inventory of extant marine biodiversity.
Project description:Biota monitoring in ports is increasingly needed for biosecurity reasons and safeguarding marine biodiversity from biological invasion. Present and future international biosecurity directives can be accomplished only if the biota acquired by maritime traffic in ports is controlled. Methodologies for biota inventory are diverse and now rely principally on extensive and labor-intensive sampling along with taxonomic identification by experts. In this study, we employed an extremely simplified environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling methodology from only three 1-L bottles of water per port, followed by metabarcoding (high-throughput sequencing and DNA-based species identification) using 18S rDNA and Cytochrome oxidase I as genetic barcodes. Eight Bay of Biscay ports with available inventory of fouling invertebrates were employed as a case study. Despite minimal sampling efforts, three invasive invertebrates were detected: the barnacle Austrominius modestus, the tubeworm Ficopomatus enigmaticus and the polychaete Polydora triglanda. The same species have been previously found from visual and DNA barcoding (genetic identification of individuals) surveys in the same ports. The current costs of visual surveys, conventional DNA barcoding and this simplified metabarcoding protocol were compared. The results encourage the use of metabarcoding for early biosecurity alerts.
Project description:In a rapidly changing world we need methods to efficiently assess biodiversity in order to monitor ecosystem trends. Ecological monitoring often uses plant community composition to infer quality of sites but conventional aboveground surveys only capture a snapshot of the actively growing plant diversity. Environmental DNA (eDNA) extracted from soil samples, however, can include taxa represented by both active and dormant tissues, seeds, pollen, and detritus. Analysis of this eDNA through DNA metabarcoding provides a more comprehensive view of plant diversity at a site from a single assessment but it is not clear which DNA markers are best used to capture this diversity. Sequence recovery, annotation, and sequence resolution among taxa were evaluated for four established DNA markers (matK, rbcL, ITS2, and the trnL P6 loop) in silico using database sequences and in situ using high throughput sequencing of 35 soil samples from a remote boreal wetland. Overall, ITS2 and rbcL are recommended for DNA metabarcoding of vascular plants from eDNA when not using customized or geographically restricted reference databases. We describe a new framework for evaluating DNA metabarcodes and, contrary to existing assumptions, we found that full length DNA barcode regions could outperform shorter markers for surveying plant diversity from soil samples. By using current DNA barcoding markers rbcL and ITS2 for plant metabarcoding, we can take advantage of existing resources such as the growing DNA barcode database. Our work establishes the value of standard DNA barcodes for soil plant eDNA analysis in ecological investigations and biomonitoring programs and supports the collaborative development of DNA barcoding and metabarcoding.
Project description:Conservation and management of marine biodiversity depends on biomonitoring of marine habitats, but current approaches are resource-intensive and require different approaches for different organisms. Environmental DNA (eDNA) extracted from water samples is an efficient and versatile approach to detecting aquatic animals. In the ocean, eDNA composition reflects local fauna at fine spatial scales, but little is known about the effectiveness of eDNA-based monitoring of marine communities at larger scales. We investigated the potential of eDNA to characterize and distinguish marine communities at large spatial scales by comparing vertebrate species composition among marine habitats in Qatar, the Arabian Gulf (also known as the Persian Gulf), based on eDNA metabarcoding of seawater samples. We conducted species accumulation analyses to estimate how much of the vertebrate diversity we detected. We obtained eDNA sequences from a diverse assemblage of marine vertebrates, spanning 191 taxa in 73 families. These included rare and endangered species and covered 36% of the bony fish genera previously recorded in the Gulf. Sites of similar habitat type were also similar in eDNA composition. The species accumulation analyses showed that the number of sample replicates was insufficient for some sampling sites but suggested that a few hundred eDNA samples could potentially capture >90% of the marine vertebrate diversity in the study area. Our results confirm that seawater samples contain habitat-characteristic molecular signatures and that eDNA monitoring can efficiently cover vertebrate diversity at scales relevant to national and regional conservation and management.
Project description:Describing and monitoring biodiversity comprise integral parts of ecosystem management. Recent research coupling metabarcoding and environmental DNA (eDNA) demonstrate that these methods can serve as important tools for surveying biodiversity, while significantly decreasing the time, expense and resources spent on traditional survey methods. The literature emphasizes the importance of genetic marker development, as the markers dictate the applicability, sensitivity and resolution ability of an eDNA assay. The present study developed two metabarcoding eDNA assays using the mtDNA 16S RNA gene with Illumina MiSeq platform to detect invertebrate fauna in the Laurentian Great Lakes and surrounding waterways, with a focus for use on invasive bivalve and gastropod species monitoring. We employed careful primer design and in vitro testing with mock communities to assess ability of the markers to amplify and sequence targeted species DNA, while retaining rank abundance information. In our mock communities, read abundances reflected the initial input abundance, with regressions having significant slopes (p<0.05) and high coefficients of determination (R2) for all comparisons. Tests on field environmental samples revealed similar ability of our markers to measure relative abundance. Due to the limited reference sequence data available for these invertebrate species, care must be taken when analyzing results and identifying sequence reads to species level. These markers extend eDNA metabarcoding research for molluscs and appear relevant to other invertebrate taxa, such as rotifers and bryozoans. Furthermore, the sphaeriid mussel assay is group-specific, exclusively amplifying bivalves in the Sphaeridae family and providing species-level identification. Our assays provide useful tools for managers and conservation scientists, facilitating early detection of invasive species as well as improving resolution of mollusc diversity.