Isothermal amplification of environmental DNA (eDNA) for direct field-based monitoring and laboratory confirmation of Dreissena sp.

Maggie R. Williams, Robert D. Stedtfeld, Cathrine Engle, Paul Salach, Umama Fakher, Tiffany Stedtfeld, Erin Dreelin, R. Jan Stevenson, Jo Latimore, Syed A. Hashsham

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32 Scopus citations


Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) of aquatic invasive species environmental DNA (AIS eDNA) was used for rapid, sensitive, and specific detection of Dreissena sp. relevant to the Great Lakes (USA) basin. The method was validated for two uses including i) direct amplification of eDNA using a hand filtration system and ii) confirmation of the results after DNA extraction using a conventional thermal cycler run at isothermal temperatures. Direct amplification eliminated the need for DNA extraction and purification and allowed detection of target invasive species in grab or concentrated surface water samples, containing both free DNA as well as larger cells and particulates, such as veligers, eggs, or seeds. The direct amplification method validation was conducted using Dreissena polymorpha and Dreissena bugensis and uses up to 1 L grab water samples for high target abundance (e.g., greater than 10 veligers (larval mussels) per L for Dreissena sp.) or 20 L samples concentrated through 35 μm nylon screens for low target abundance, at less than 10 veligers per liter water. Surface water concentrate samples were collected over a period of three years, mostly from inland lakes in Michigan with the help of a network of volunteers. Field samples collected from 318 surface water locations included i) filtered concentrate for direct amplification validation and ii) 1 L grab water sample for eDNA extraction and confirmation. Though the extraction-based protocol was more sensitive (resulting in more positive detections than direct amplification), direct amplification could be used for rapid screening, allowing for quicker action times. For samples collected between May and August, results of eDNA direct amplification were consistent with known presence/absence of selected invasive species. A cross-platform smartphone application was also developed to disseminate the analyzed results to volunteers. Field tests of the direct amplification protocol using a portable device (Gene-Z) showed the method could be used in the field to obtain results within one hr (from sample to result). Overall, the direct amplification has the potential to simplify the eDNA-based monitoring of multiple aquatic invasive species. Additional studies are warranted to establish quantitative correlation between eDNA copy number, veliger, biomass or organismal abundance in the field.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0186462
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017


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