Persistence of environmental DNA in freshwater ecosystems

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Abstract

The precise knowledge of species distribution is a key step in conservation biology. However, species detection can be extremely difficult in many environments, specific life stages and in populations at very low density. The aim of this study was to improve the knowledge on DNA persistence in water in order to confirm the presence of the focus species in freshwater ecosystems. Aquatic vertebrates (fish: Siberian sturgeon and amphibian: Bullfrog tadpoles) were used as target species. In control conditions (tanks) and in the field (ponds), the DNA detectability decreases with time after the removal of the species source of DNA. DNA was detectable for less than one month in both conditions. The density of individuals also influences the dynamics of DNA detectability in water samples. The dynamics of detectability reflects the persistence of DNA fragments in freshwater ecosystems. The short time persistence of detectable amounts of DNA opens perspectives in conservation biology, by allowing access to the presence or absence of species e.g. rare, secretive, potentially invasive, or at low density. This knowledge of DNA persistence will greatly influence planning of biodiversity inventories and biosecurity surveys.

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Dejean, T., Valentini, A., Duparc, A., Pellier-Cuit, S., Pompanon, F., Taberlet, P., & Miaud, C. (2011). Persistence of environmental DNA in freshwater ecosystems. PLoS ONE, 6(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0023398

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