Monitoring of aquatic biodiversity is of crucial importance to assess ecological water quality. Such information enables water authorities to address environmental problems and their appropriate solutions. In the European Union, the Habitat Directive and Water Framework Directive are important legislative drivers necessitating detailed information on ecological status and of action plans for restoration and effective management.
Identification of aquatic species using eDNA provides a promising new way to tackle biodiversity monitoring. With the number of taxonomic specialists declining, eDNA analysis may provide an important pathway to acquire data on the presence of species. By comparing validated DNA barcode data with the eDNA diversity obtained in water samples, biomonitoring can be done in an objective, automated way.
- The eDNA tool assists aquatic biomonitoring by providing a growing list of validated eDNA barcodes for a variety of aquatic species.
- The user community is key in providing species barcode information, which is subsequently validated and made available to all for proper species identification.
- Species barcode information can be uploaded to produce a proper identification of the species; also, validated barcode information for species available in the eDNA databank can be obtained.
- At present, the eDNA tool is a work-in-progress, and feedback on user experiences and needs is welcome.
The eDNA tool helps you identify aquatic species by comparing your DNA barcode information with a list of validated barcodes in an online database. By uploading barcode information for validation, the database will continue to grow and encompass more and more species of relevance to aquatic biodiversity monitoring and management. By sharing this information, a valuable reference base will be available to all. The eDNA tool can also be used to find DNA barcode information for a selected species present in the database.
How does it work?
- In the Search screen, you may choose to conduct a search by species name or by DNA barcode information.
- In a species name search, you enter the particular species name and all the available information on the species will be shown. Alternatively, you may leave the species name field blank. If you then click the search button, you will receive the complete set of records available.
- In a DNA barcode sequence search, you can also choose the particular type of gene that you are interested in. After entering the DNA sequence of interest, the search will return all the information available for the sequence. Alternatively, you may leave the DNA sequence information field blank. If you then click the search button, you receive the complete set of records available.
- In the Results screen, you see the record that was found on the basis of your species name or DNA sequence search, or the list of all records currently available in the database in the event you left the search field blank.
- With the View button, you can see the information for a selected record.
- With the Add button, you may upload information to the database for validation. The “Validated” field is fixed to the value “No”. After filling in the various fields, by clicking the Save button you will upload the information to the database, and the system manager is automatically notified that a new record has been uploaded for validation.
- With the Modify button, you may change information for a record that has not yet been validated.
- With the Delete button, you may delete a selected record that has not yet been validated.
- The Validate button is only operational for the system manager, who is the only person who can validate a particular new record.
Implementation of the tool
The eDNA tool itself is fully web-based, you do not have to install particular software to select the various options. At present, you may provide your barcode information in a copy-paste operation. The uploading of data files will be incorporated in the future.
As the eDNA tool is a work-in-progress, feedback on user experiences and needs is welcome. For demonstration purposes, the DNA barcode database currently provides information on invasive crayfish species, an amphibian (Great crested newt, Triturus cristatus) and a fish (European weather loach, Misgurnus fossilis).
There are several forms of support available to ensure that you optimise your use of the eDNA tool, and that you are updated on all the latest developments. Specifically, you can make use of the following options to suit your particular situation:
- Support in using the eDNA tool and in the interpretation of its outcome to arrive at tailor-made solutions for your biodiversity monitoring issues.
- An introductory course in eDNA analysis and monitoring options.
- Evaluation of your eDNA monitoring strategy, on the basis of existing measurement data or with a specifically designed monitoring programme.
- Advice on determining the key factors that affect the biodiversity in your water system, so as to improve the general ecological quality in view of the European Water Framework Directive.
- Access to eDNA-related projects or research.