Environmental DNA

Aquatic invasive species often go undetected because they are hidden beneath the water. Their detection typically occurs when their abundance increases to a point when ecosystem damage begins. Using DNA collected from water samples, new technology can detect as little as a single cell from an invasive species. Goby adultGenuine early detection means detecting the presence of a species before it has the opportunity to populate and cause irreplaceable harm to the ecosystem of concern. In the Eastern Lake Ontario Region the SLELO PRISM partners in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Cornell University are implementing a project to assess the feasibility of using environmental DNA or eDNA as an early detection tool for aquatic invasive species. Over 400 water samples will be collected from four strategic locations along Eastern Lake Ontario and analyzed using highly specialized processes known as qPCR for the presence of genetic material release by both invasive and native aquatic animals. Species of fish that we will look for include invasive species such as Northern Snakehead (Channa argus), Round Goby (Neogobius melanostomus) and all of the Pan Asian Carp species. We will also be looking for native species such as Cisco and Rock Bass.