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Environmental DNA analysis has emerged as a key component of biodiversity and environmental monitoring. However, the state and fate of eDNA in natural environments is still poorly understood for many ecological systems. Here we assess the state and fate of eDNA derived from the water flea, Daphnia magna, using a full factorial mesocosm experiment. We measured the quantity and degradation of eDNA over a two month period across a range of filters differing in pore size (0, 0.2, 1 and 10 µm), which spans the range of eDNA source material including subcellular, cellular and tissue. We also used two primer sets targeting mitochondrial (COI) and nuclear (18S) genomic regions. Our findings demonstrated that eDNA was most prevalent in the effluent water, but also reliably detected on the 0.2 μm filter, suggesting subcellular material is the predominate state of eDNA. Temporal eDNA quantity dynamics followed an exponential decay function over the course of 6-17 days, demonstrating a predictable decline in eDNA concentration. Nuclear eDNA was more abundant than mitochondrial eDNA, which may be a result of greater primer affinity, or indicate greater availability of nuclear eDNA gene targets in the environment. In contrast to two previous size-sorting experiments, which utilizing fish eDNA, our findings suggest that the state of invertebrate eDNA is much smaller than previously suspected. Overall, our data suggest that the detection of eDNA greatly depends on our knowledge of the state and fate of eDNA, which differ among species, and likely across environmental conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12500 (2019
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2019

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