Acidity promotes degradation of multi-species environmental DNA in lotic mesocosms

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  • Mathew Seymour
  • Isabelle Durance
    Cardiff University
  • Bernard Jack Cosby
    Environment Centre Wales
  • Emma Ransom-Jones
  • Kirsty Deiner
    Cornell University
  • S.J. Ormerod
    Cardiff University
  • John K. Colbourne
    University of Birmingham
  • Gregory Wilgar
  • Gary Carvalho
  • Mark De Bruyn
  • Francois Edwards
    Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford
  • B. A. Emmett
    Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
  • Holly M. Bik
    University of California–Riverside
  • Simon Creer
Accurate quantification of biodiversity is fundamental to understanding ecosystem function and for environmental assessment. Molecular methods using environmental DNA (eDNA) offer a non-invasive, rapid, and cost-effective alternative to traditional biodiversity assessments, which require high levels of expertise. While eDNA analyses are increasingly being utilized, there remains considerable uncertainty regarding the dynamics of multispecies eDNA, especially in variable systems such as rivers. Here, we utilize four sets of upland stream mesocosms, across an acid–base gradient, to assess the temporal and environmental degradation of multispecies eDNA. Sampling included water column and biofilm sampling over time with eDNA quantified using qPCR. Our findings show that the persistence of lotic multispecies eDNA, sampled from water and biofilm, decays to non-detectable levels within 2 days and that acidic environments accelerate the degradation process. Collectively, the results provide the basis for a predictive framework for the relationship between lotic eDNA degradation dynamics in spatio-temporally dynamic river ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalCommunications Biology
Early online date22 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2018

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