Local species detection from DNA in water samples

Environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis is useful for determining species composition of local macrofauna such as fish, mammals and birds by the analysis of DNA present within the water column, in the absence of the originating species. The DNA is either freely dissolved in the water or is present in cellular detritus from sloughed skin, faeces or mucus. eDNA has been shown to provide a good estimate of local and temporally variable species abundance, making the technique an essential tool for environmental monitoring.

Invasive species

eDNA is a valuable tool for early warning of invasive species. Larval stages of many species are difficult to identify by conventional taxonomic analysis. DNA analysis of seawater samples can reveal the presence of a species level composition of its plankton, which is extremely valuable in the assessment of invasive species transfer, in particular from ships ballast water. Similar analysis can be used to examine to the presence of cysts of toxic species of dinoflagellates and diatoms in ballast tank sediment, which may pose a threat to human health and aquaculture if released in shipping ports.

Xelect offers a rapid and cost effective screening service using DNA barcoding to examine ballast water, sediment and other marine water samples to inform management and to mitigate hazards to the marine environment.

Details of our invasive species detection programme

Ecosystem monitoring

Recording changes in ecosystem composition can be a valuable indicator of environmental damage or recovery, but can be very time-consuming and laborious by traditional methodology. Local species composition can be measured from as little as 0.5L of seawater. This means long term base-line monitoring of ecosystem structure can be performed, providing a data series against which impact assessments can be made. The eDNA approach is flexible – we can target a list of key species with presence / absence assays or we can use sequencing to detect broad taxonomic groups.

Xelect is able to undertake long or short term eDNA based ecosystem monitoring projects, at competitive prices. We welcome enquires from industrial, academic and regulatory groups. We can offer a bespoke service, focussed on the taxonomic groups and time-scales of interest to your project.

 We provide full support with sampling and experimental design. Contact us to learn more