Friday, September 30, 2022

New eDNA technique opens doorways for environmental analysis

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With a single pattern of water or soil, researches can analyze the DNA of every thing that’s residing in that atmosphere. During her analysis, Ph.D. candidate Beilun Zhao found a solution to analyze not solely the sort of species, but in addition the age of the species in a water pattern. The technique confirmed its first success with the nice pond snail and is step one to an entire new world of environmental analysis.

Every residing being leaves behind traces of DNA wherever they go. That signifies that with a single pattern of air, soil or water you possibly can see which animals stay in that atmosphere. Until now, analyzing this so-called environmental DNA (eDNA), solely gave data on what sort of species stay in that atmosphere. Zhao found a brand new technique to additionally get data on the age of the species residing in an aquatic atmosphere.

“This goes way beyond the presence or absence of a species,” Professor of Environmental Biology and promotor of Zhao, Peter van Bodegom says. “Information on the age of a group is essential in a lot of conservational and ecological studies. We want to know how the species is behaving, how the population is evolving and if it is reproducing. Is the group decreasing or improving and are our conservation or restoration efforts actually successful?”

The starting of a brand new period in environmental analysis

Zhao used a technique to get data on the totally different age classes of the nice pond snail. “For the first time we could separate age classes from a water sample,” Zhao says. “For now, we only tested it with this one species of snails. But the fact that it is possible, brings a bunch of new research opportunities.”

The nice pond snail is a quite common species in aquatic environments, which makes it a superb instance to analysis. “In our research the age classes were separated in water tanks. Next, we will have to look how we can analyze the age classes when they are all together. For now we only tested four age classes, so we surely want to increase this. And of course, then we have to take it further and look at different kind of species to apply the method on.”

In order to get the knowledge on age, Zhao analyzed a sort of DNA modification known as methylation. With this technique, she seemed on the eDNA methylation of the species at 4 age courses. That is feasible as a result of animals go away a distinct methylation sample of the eDNA relying on their age.

“This method could eventually also be used to trace diseases and adaptations caused by environmental change. For example, when the temperature changes, the methylation in our body also changes.”

A brand new instrument within the eDNA toolbox

Both promotors of Zhao, Van Bodegom and assistant professor Krijn Trimbos have been working with eDNA for years and are very excited in regards to the discovery. “The eDNA toolbox has stayed pretty stable over the last ten of fifteen years,” Trimbos says. “This opens a whole new direction that you can apply to environmental and ecological studies and fill in the missing information. Age is such a central property of the populations build up. If one day you can add health to that, you get a very deep insight on how the species are doing.”

Current analysis with eDNA already offers the chance to analysis species in a extra animal and environmentally pleasant approach. “Instead of having to go through a specific bio monitoring scheme, such as trying to catch all the fish there are in the environment, you can take one sample and know it all,” Trimbos says. “With the extra information on age, this will be easier and way more complete.”

Zhao may be very excited for additional analysis into this technique. “It’s the first time that we can find information beyond the kind of species. That’s very interesting. And this technique is also very cheap so it could be applied widely. It’s quite contradictory to catch and hurt the species when you want to get information on them for an environmental study. With eDNA in general and this extra method, research can be done way more easily without hurting the fish.”


Using DNA to search for fish species


Provided by
Leiden University


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New eDNA technique opens doorways for environmental analysis (2022, September 22)
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