Organisms shed their DNA. This DNA is referred to as environmental DNA or “eDNA”. At COS, we have been optimizing and applying technologies that aid the detection of eDNA for improved management of marine organisms and ecosystems from seawater samples. Since 2012 we have tested, optimized, and applied methods to detect eDNA of organisms in marine waters. Our advancements have enabled the DNA detection of marine organisms from microbes to marine mammals.
Our current eDNA work aims to optimize DNA detection in marine waters. As part of our Sustainable Ocean Economies initiative we are working with our partners in Micronesia to collect eDNA data for biological monitoring (biomonitoring). In large ocean areas monitoring is challenging. eDNA provides an opportunity to detect organisms in locations where visual or automated monitoring is less feasible. Developing a network of regularly sampled locations around the region will allow for broader biological diversity detection and identification. With our existing partners from the Palauan Government and the Palau International Coral Reef Center, we are collaboratively optimizing methods to characterize an initial eDNA inventory and begin to operationalize an eDNA monitoring program. This program will help assess biological baselines and ecological expectations for lagoon, near-shore and offshore habitats in order to improve sustainable management of marine resources.
Palau International Coral Reef Center