[MARMAM] New publication - Using eDNA to detect marine mammals

Andy Foote footead at gmail.com
Wed Aug 29 14:27:59 PDT 2012

Dear Colleagues,

We have just published details of a study in which we have investigated the
ability to detect species presence by amplifying ‘environmental DNA’ (eDNA)
in samples of seawater.

For this proof of concept study we used small samples (15-50 ml) and
targeted sequencing to allow direct comparison with published freshwater
studies, but this meant we had a high proportion of false negative

However, our colleagues have used filtrate from larger volumes of seawater
and using the Roche GS FLX 454 pyrosequencing have been able to detect a
number of fish species comparable with, or even bettering, results from
traditional survey methods for the same area.

eDNA sampling therefore has the potential to compliment current acoustic
and visual survey methods if the question is one regarding species

It should be noted that eDNA is very fragmented, often <100bp, and this
sampling method is not a suitable alternative to biopsy sampling for
population genetics.

Below are the links to access both papers.

PLoS One is open access and so everyone with internet access should be able
to get a copy.

Foote AD, Thomsen PF, Sveegaard S, Wahlberg M, Kielgast J, Kyhn LA, Salling
AB, Galatius A, Orlando L, Gilbert MTP (2012)

Investigating the potential use of environmental DNA (eDNA) for genetic
monitoring of marine mammals. PLoS one


Thomsen PF, Kielgast J, Lønsmann Iversen L, Rask Møller P, Ramussen M,
Willerslev E (2012) Detection of a diverse marine fish fauna using
environmental DNA from seawater samples. PLoS one


Andy Foote

*Dr Andrew Foote*
*Centre for GeoGenetics*
The Natural History Museum of Denmark
Øster Voldgade 5 - 7
1350 Copenhagen K
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