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Application of environmental DNA to detect an endangered marine skate species in the wild


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Weltz, K ORCID: 0000-0003-3866-8148, Lyle, JM ORCID: 0000-0001-9670-5854, Ovenden, J, Morgan, JAT, Moreno, DA and Semmens, JM ORCID: 0000-0003-1742-6692 2017 , 'Application of environmental DNA to detect an endangered marine skate species in the wild' , PLoS One, vol. 12, no. 6 , pp. 1-16 , doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0178124.

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Environmental DNA (eDNA) techniques have only recently been applied in the marine environment to detect the presence of marine species. Species-specific primers and probes were designed to detect the eDNA of the endangered Maugean skate (Zearaja maugeana) from as little as 1 L of water collected at depth (10-15 m) in Macquarie Harbour (MH), Tasmania. The identity of the eDNA was confirmed as Z. maugeana by sequencing the qPCR products and aligning these with the target sequence for a 100% match. This result has validated the use of this eDNA technique for detecting a rare species, Z. maugeana, in the wild. Being able to investigate the presence, and possibly the abundance, of Z. maugeana in MH and Bathurst harbour (BH), would be addressing a conservation imperative for the endangered Z. maugeana. For future application of this technique in the field, the rate of decay was determined for Z. maugeana eDNA under ambient dissolved oxygen (DO) levels (55% saturation) and lower DO (20% saturation) levels, revealing that the eDNA can be detected for 4 and 16 hours respectively, after which eDNA concentration drops below the detection threshold of the assay. With the rate of decay being influenced by starting eDNA concentrations, it is recommended that samples be filtered as soon as possible after collection to minimize further loss of eDNA prior to and during sample processing.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Weltz, K and Lyle, JM and Ovenden, J and Morgan, JAT and Moreno, DA and Semmens, JM
Keywords: environmental DNA, endangered species, Maugean skate
Journal or Publication Title: PLoS One
Publisher: Public Library of Science
ISSN: 1932-6203
DOI / ID Number: 10.1371/journal.pone.0178124
Copyright Information:

© 2017 Weltz et al. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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