Inference of genetic marker concentrations from field surveys to detect environmental DNA using Bayesian updating.
ABSTRACT: Field studies to detect environmental DNA (eDNA) can be undertaken to infer the presence of a rare or cryptic species in a water body. These studies are implemented by collecting water samples from the water body, processing those samples to isolate genetic material contained in the water sample, and using a laboratory assay to find a species-specific genetic marker within a sample of the genetic material. To date, conventional polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has been one of the most widely used assays in field studies to detect eDNA. This assay is strictly a test for the presence of the genetic marker. It provides no estimate of the concentration of the target genetic marker in the sample or in the environment. Understanding the concentration of a target marker in the environment is a critical first step toward using the results of eDNA field surveys to support inferences about the location and strength of eDNA sources. In this study, the results of eDNA field surveys are combined with a model of the sensitivity of the field survey methods to estimate target marker concentrations using Bayesian updating. The method is demonstrated for Asian carp in the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) using the results of field surveys for eDNA carried out during the period 2009 through 2012, a four-year period during which more than 5,800 two-liter water samples were collected and analyzed using PCR. Concentrations of bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) and silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) eDNA are estimated for twenty hydrologic reaches of the CAWS. This study also assesses the sensitivity of these concentration estimates to evidentiary criteria that limit what evidence is used in Bayesian updating based on requirements for sampling intensity and frequency.
Project description:The environmental DNA (eDNA) method is the practice of collecting environmental samples and analyzing them for the presence of a genetic marker specific to a target species. Little is known about the sensitivity of the eDNA method. Sensitivity is the probability that the target marker will be detected if it is present in the water body. Methods and tools are needed to assess the sensitivity of sampling protocols, design eDNA surveys, and interpret survey results. In this study, the sensitivity of the eDNA method is modeled as a function of ambient target marker concentration. The model accounts for five steps of sample collection and analysis, including: 1) collection of a filtered water sample from the source; 2) extraction of DNA from the filter and isolation in a purified elution; 3) removal of aliquots from the elution for use in the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay; 4) PCR; and 5) genetic sequencing. The model is applicable to any target species. For demonstration purposes, the model is parameterized for bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) and silver carp (H. molitrix) assuming sampling protocols used in the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS). Simulation results show that eDNA surveys have a high false negative rate at low concentrations of the genetic marker. This is attributed to processing of water samples and division of the extraction elution in preparation for the PCR assay. Increases in field survey sensitivity can be achieved by increasing sample volume, sample number, and PCR replicates. Increasing sample volume yields the greatest increase in sensitivity. It is recommended that investigators estimate and communicate the sensitivity of eDNA surveys to help facilitate interpretation of eDNA survey results. In the absence of such information, it is difficult to evaluate the results of surveys in which no water samples test positive for the target marker. It is also recommended that invasive species managers articulate concentration-based sensitivity objectives for eDNA surveys. In the absence of such information, it is difficult to design appropriate sampling protocols. The model provides insights into how sampling protocols can be designed or modified to achieve these sensitivity objectives.
Project description:Although environmental DNA (eDNA) is increasingly being used to survey for the presence of rare and/or invasive fishes in aquatic systems, the utility of this technique has been limited by a poor understanding of whether and how eDNA concentrations relate to fish density, especially in rivers. We conducted a field study to systematically test whether the eDNA released by a model invasive fish, Silver Carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), was related to the density of this species in a large river. We quantified fish density throughout the 460 km long Illinois River using hydroacoustic surveys at 23 sites while concurrently collecting 192 surface water samples for eDNA analysis. We found that Silver Carp numerical density and biomass density were positively and non-linearly related to eDNA concentration and detection rate. Both eDNA concentration (copy number) and detection rate increased rapidly as Silver Carp density increased but plateaued at moderate densities. These relationships could prove useful for estimating Silver Carp relative abundance in newly invaded locations where population numbers are low to moderate. Future studies should explore the causes of this nonlinear relationship as it would ultimately benefit aquatic species monitoring and management programs.
Project description:Invasive Asian bighead and silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis and H. molitrix) pose a substantial threat to North American aquatic ecosystems. Recently, environmental DNA (eDNA), genetic material shed by organisms into their environment that can be detected by non-invasive sampling strategies and genetic assays, has gained recognition as a tool for tracking the invasion front of these species toward the Great Lakes. The goal of this study was to develop new species-specific conventional PCR (cPCR) and quantitative (qPCR) markers for detection of these species in North American surface waters. We first generated complete mitochondrial genome sequences from 33 bighead and 29 silver carp individuals collected throughout their introduced range. These sequences were aligned with those from other common and closely related fish species from the Illinois River watershed to identify and design new species-specific markers for the detection of bighead and silver carp DNA in environmental water samples. We then tested these genetic markers in the laboratory for species-specificity and sensitivity. Newly developed markers performed well in field trials, did not have any false positive detections, and many markers had much higher detection rates and sensitivity compared to the markers currently used in eDNA surveillance programs. We also explored the use of multiple genetic markers to determine whether it would improve detection rates, results of which showed that using multiple highly sensitive markers should maximize detection rates in environmental samples. The new markers developed in this study greatly expand the number of species-specific genetic markers available to track the invasion front of bighead and silver carp and will improve the resolution of these assays. Additionally, the use of the qPCR markers developed in this study may reduce sample processing time and cost of eDNA monitoring for these species.
Project description:The prevention of non-indigenous aquatic invasive species spreading into new areas is a goal of many resource managers. New techniques have been developed to survey for species that are difficult to capture with conventional gears that involve the detection of their DNA in water samples (eDNA). This technique is currently used to track the invasion of bigheaded carps (silver carp and bighead carp; Hypophthalmichthys molitrix and H. nobilis) in the Chicago Area Waterway System and Upper Mississippi River. In both systems DNA has been detected from silver carp without the capture of a live fish, which has led to some uncertainty about the source of the DNA. The potential contribution to eDNA by vectors and fomites has not been explored. Because barges move from areas with a high abundance of bigheaded carps to areas monitored for the potential presence of silver carp, we used juvenile silver carp to simulate the barge transport of dead bigheaded carp carcasses, slime residue, and predator feces to determine the potential of these sources to supply DNA to uninhabited waters where it could be detected and misinterpreted as indicative of the presence of live bigheaded carp. Our results indicate that all three vectors are feasible sources of detectable eDNA for at least one month after their deposition. This suggests that current monitoring programs must consider alternative vectors of DNA in the environment and consider alternative strategies to minimize the detection of DNA not directly released from live bigheaded carps.
Project description:Indirect, non-invasive detection of rare aquatic macrofauna using aqueous environmental DNA (eDNA) is a relatively new approach to population and biodiversity monitoring. As such, the sensitivity of monitoring results to different methods of eDNA capture, extraction, and detection is being investigated in many ecosystems and species. One of the first and largest conservation programs with eDNA-based monitoring as a central instrument focuses on Asian bigheaded carp (Hypophthalmichthys spp.), an invasive fish spreading toward the Laurentian Great Lakes. However, the standard eDNA methods of this program have not advanced since their development in 2010. We developed new, quantitative, and more cost-effective methods and tested them against the standard protocols. In laboratory testing, our new quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay for bigheaded carp eDNA was one to two orders of magnitude more sensitive than the existing endpoint PCR assays. When applied to eDNA samples from an experimental pond containing bigheaded carp, the qPCR assay produced a detection probability of 94.8% compared to 4.2% for the endpoint PCR assays. Also, the eDNA capture and extraction method we adapted from aquatic microbiology yielded five times more bigheaded carp eDNA from the experimental pond than the standard method, at a per sample cost over forty times lower. Our new, more sensitive assay provides a quantitative tool for eDNA-based monitoring of bigheaded carp, and the higher-yielding eDNA capture and extraction method we describe can be used for eDNA-based monitoring of any aquatic species.
Project description:Environmental DNA (eDNA) from aquatic vertebrates has recently been used to estimate the presence of a species. We hypothesized that fish release DNA into the water at a rate commensurate with their biomass. Thus, the concentration of eDNA of a target species may be used to estimate the species biomass. We developed an eDNA method to estimate the biomass of common carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) using laboratory and field experiments. In the aquarium, the concentration of eDNA changed initially, but reached an equilibrium after 6 days. Temperature had no effect on eDNA concentrations in aquaria. The concentration of eDNA was positively correlated with carp biomass in both aquaria and experimental ponds. We used this method to estimate the biomass and distribution of carp in a natural freshwater lagoon. We demonstrated that the distribution of carp eDNA concentration was explained by water temperature. Our results suggest that biomass data estimated from eDNA concentration reflects the potential distribution of common carp in the natural environment. Measuring eDNA concentration offers a non-invasive, simple, and rapid method for estimating biomass. This method could inform management plans for the conservation of ecosystems.
Project description:Environmental DNA (eDNA) is DNA shed by organisms into surrounding environments such as soil and water. The new methods using eDNA as a marker for species detection are being rapidly developed. Here we explore basic knowledge regarding the dependence of the eDNA degradation rate on time and water temperature, and the relationship between eDNA degradation and bacterial abundance. This subject has not been well clarified, even though it is essential for improving the reliability of eDNA analysis. To determine the time- and water temperature-dependent degradation of eDNA, river water was sampled and eDNA concentrations were determined for ayu sweetfish (Plecoglossus altivelis altivelis) and common carp (Cyprinus carpio) at seven time points, over a 48-h period, and at three different water temperatures. The degradation of eDNA was modeled for each species using an existing exponential decay model with an extension to include water temperature effects. The degradation models were constructed for ayu sweetfish as Nt = 229,901.2 × exp [- (0.01062 × k - 0.07081) × t] and for common carp as Nt = 2,558.0 × exp [- (0.01075 × k - 0.07372) × t]. Nt is the DNA concentration at time t (elapsed time in hours) and k is the water temperature (°C). We also measured the concentration of eDNA derived from purified genomic DNA of the common carp, which was spiked into aquarium water without the target species, and we measured the bacterial abundance in the sample water after 12 and 24 h of incubation. Environmental DNA degradation was accelerated at higher water temperatures (generalized linear model, GLM; p < 0.001), but bacterial abundance did not have a significant effect on eDNA degradation (GLM, p = 0.097). These results suggest that the proper treatment of this temperature effect in data interpretations and adjustments would increase the reliability of eDNA analysis in future studies.
Project description:Although environmental DNA (eDNA) has been used to infer the presence of rare aquatic species, many facets of this technique remain unresolved. In particular, the relationship between eDNA and fish distribution is not known. We examined the relationship between the distribution of fish and their eDNA (detection rate and concentration) in a lake. A quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay for a region within the cytochrome b gene of the common carp (Cyprinus carpio or 'carp'), an ubiquitous invasive fish, was developed and used to measure eDNA in Lake Staring (MN, USA), in which both the density of carp and their distribution have been closely monitored for several years. Surface water, sub-surface water, and sediment were sampled from 22 locations in the lake, including areas frequently used by carp. In water, areas of high carp use had a higher rate of detection and concentration of eDNA, but there was no effect of fish use on sediment eDNA. The detection rate and concentration of eDNA in surface and sub-surface water were not significantly different (p?0.5), indicating that eDNA did not accumulate in surface water. The detection rate followed the trend: high-use water > low-use water > sediment. The concentration of eDNA in sediment samples that were above the limit of detection were several orders of magnitude greater than water on a per mass basis, but a poor limit of detection led to low detection rates. The patchy distribution of eDNA in the water of our study lake suggests that the mechanisms that remove eDNA from the water column, such as decay and sedimentation, are rapid. Taken together, these results indicate that effective eDNA sampling methods should be informed by fish distribution, as eDNA concentration was shown to vary dramatically between samples taken less than 100 m apart.
Project description:In the 1970s, the introduced silver carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix (which is indigenous to eastern Asia) escaped from southern U.S. aquaculture to spread throughout the Mississippi River basin, and since has steadily moved northward. This large, prolific filter-feeder reduces food availability for other fishes. It now has reached the threshold of the Laurentian Great Lakes, where it likely will significantly impact food chains and fisheries. Our study evaluates population genetic variability and differentiation of the silver carp using 10 nuclear DNA microsatellite loci, and sequences of two mitochondrial genes-cytochrome b and cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1, along with the nuclear ribosomal protein S7 gene intron 1. We analyze population samples from: two primary Great Lakes' invasion fronts (at the Illinois River outside of Chicago, IL in Lake Michigan and in the Wabash River, which leads into the Maumee River and western Lake Erie), the original establishment "core" in the Lower Mississippi River, and expansion areas in the Upper Mississippi and Missouri rivers. We analyze and compare our results with bighead and other invasive carps, and cyprinid relatives. Results reveal that the silver carp invasion possesses moderate levels of genetic diversity, with more mtDNA haplotypes and unique microsatellite alleles in the "core" Lower Mississippi River population, which also diverges the most. The two invasion fronts also significantly genetically differ. About 3% of individuals (including all populations except the Illinois River) contain a unique and very divergent mtDNA haplotype, which likely stems from historic introgression in Asia with female largescale silver carp H. harmandi. The nuclear microsatellites and S7 sequences of the introgressed individuals do not differ from silver carp and are very distant from bighead carp. These sequence variation data are employed to design and evaluate a targeted high-throughput metabarcoding sequence assay that identifies and distinguishes among species of invasive carps (i.e., silver, bighead, grass, black, and common carps, along with goldfish), as well as native cyprinids, using cytochrome b. Our assay further differentiates among selected silver carp haplotypes (including between H. molitrix and H. harmandi), for use in population genetics and future analyses of spread pathways. We test and evaluate this assay on environmental (e)DNA water samples from 48 bait shops in the Great Lakes' region (along the Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair, and Wabash River watersheds), using positive and negative controls and custom bioinformatic processing. Test results discern silver carp eDNA in four of the shops-three in Lake Erie and one in the Wabash River watershed-and bighead carp from one of the same Lake Erie venues, suggesting that retailers (who often source from established southerly populations) comprise another introduction vector. Our overall findings thus provide key population genetic and phylogenetic data for understanding and tracing introductions, vectors, and spread pathways for silver carp, their variants, and their relatives.
Project description:An environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis method has been recently developed to estimate the distribution of aquatic animals by quantifying the number of target DNA copies with quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR). A new quantitative PCR technology, droplet digital PCR (ddPCR), partitions PCR reactions into thousands of droplets and detects the amplification in each droplet, thereby allowing direct quantification of target DNA. We evaluated the quantification accuracy of qPCR and ddPCR to estimate species abundance and biomass by using eDNA in mesocosm experiments involving different numbers of common carp. We found that ddPCR quantified the concentration of carp eDNA along with carp abundance and biomass more accurately than qPCR, especially at low eDNA concentrations. In addition, errors in the analysis were smaller in ddPCR than in qPCR. Thus, ddPCR is better suited to measure eDNA concentration in water, and it provides more accurate results for the abundance and biomass of the target species than qPCR. We also found that the relationship between carp abundance and eDNA concentration was stronger than that between biomass and eDNA by using both ddPCR and qPCR; this suggests that abundance can be better estimated by the analysis of eDNA for species with fewer variations in body mass.