Rapid detection and identification of high-risk invasive animals either at the point of entry or in the field are essential to prevent new incursions and to enable a rapid response for successful eradication. Detection and monitoring species using environmental DNA (eDNA) is recognised as a powerful tool, and has been shown to have greater sensitivity for less effort and for fewer negative affects compared to traditional survey methods.
With eDNA now firmly established as a highly effective method for species detection, it is now able to be further refined for routine use in biosecurity applications.
February 2019 update:
The development of new eDNA detection methods are ongoing.
The research group launched www.ecoDNA.org.au to further enhance the outcomes of their research.
EcoDNA is the new name of the research team associated with this project, and its website was launched on 5 March 2019 (www.ecodna.org.au). The website will allow end-users to enquire about eDNA and eventually submit samples for analysis.
Real-time detection methods are being trialed using portable DNA sequencing tools. Whole genomes can be sequenced directly from water samples, however methods to improve species identification are underway. Work is currently underway on the eDNA metabarcoding abundance framework and models are being developed to predict competition between DNA sequences.
A proposed national reference laboratory will be developed over three years to perform research and extension to intergovernmental and cross-sectoral department business operations such as border surveillance using real-time tools. The ornamental fish trade will be examined as a
Development of proposals for eDNA applications in an expanded list of biosecurity risks and established pests is being prepared in a report by the EcoDNA team.