Modeling the Transport of Environmental DNA (eDNA)

EPA Grant Number: FP917816
Title: Modeling the Transport of Environmental DNA (eDNA)
Investigators: Shogren, Arial Joy
Institution: University of Notre Dame
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2018
Project Amount: $132,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2015) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships

Objective:

The overarching goal of the project is to provide improve an understanding of the transport, retention, and persistence of eDNA particles that are actively transported by flowing waters using a combination of empirical and modeling approaches. I will use a transdisciplinary approach coupling biology, hydrology, and new techniques from physics to inform eDNA transport and detection to determine the potentials and limitations of eDNA detection and transport in stream and river environments. The fellow will work to adapt a novel field-based detection platform, Light Transmission Spectroscopy (LTS), for measuring the eDNA in aquatic environments.

Approach:

Although eDNA detection methods show great potential for detecting aquatic invasive species, understanding the physical and biological variables that influence how eDNA particles are transported, retained, and processed in flowing waters is essential for modeling and interpreting a positive eDNA detection in complex systems. Additionally, while eDNA is a useful tool for monitoring, eDNA is not a “typical” particle: it is a heterogeneous, non-uniform particle, with may sources and sizes, complicating how we interpret positive detections in flowing environments. Therefore, this project will employ a trans-disciplinary approach coupling biology, hydrology, and new techniques from physics to inform eDNA transport and detection to determine the potentials and limitations of eDNA detection and transport in stream and river environments.

Expected Results:

Despite recent examples that demonstrate the efficacy of eDNA surveillance, few studies have examined the biological and physical factors that impact how eDNA moves through an aquatic environment. Additionally, the nature of previous research observations suggests that a more stochastic approach to both eDNA modeling and field sampling design is merited to represent the inherent stochasticity of eDNA mixtures. We therefore need to incorporate the combination of particle deposition and slow resuspension from a streambed, environmental variables, and degradation into predictive modeling efforts. This research will expand understanding of the complexities of particle transport in flowing environments, in addition to developing a novel detection platform for detecting eDNA in the field.

Supplemental Keywords:

environmental DNA, eDNA, particle transport, Light Transmission Spectroscopy

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2016
  • 2017
  • Final