Environmental RNA: A Revolution in Ecological Resolution?

Citations of this article
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
Get full text


Current advancements in environmental RNA (eRNA) exploit its relatively fast turnover rate relative to environmental DNA (eDNA) to assess ‘metabolically active’ or temporally/spatially recent community diversity. However, this focus significantly underutilizes the trove of potential ecological information encrypted in eRNA. Here, we argue for pushing beyond current species-level eDNA detection capabilities by using eRNA to detect any organisms with unique eRNA profiles, potentially including different life-history stages, sexes, or even specific phenotypes within a species. We also discuss the future of eRNA as a means of assessing the physiological status of organisms and the ecological health of populations and communities, reflecting ecosystem-level conditions. We posit that eRNA has the potential to significantly improve the resolution of organism detection, biological monitoring, and biomonitoring applications in ecology.




Yates, M. C., Derry, A. M., & Cristescu, M. E. (2021, July 1). Environmental RNA: A Revolution in Ecological Resolution? Trends in Ecology and Evolution. Elsevier Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2021.03.001

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free