Aquatic invasive species represent an important environmental threat to Department of Defense (DoD) lands that can harm both Federally-listed species and installation infrastructure. Cost-effective management of invasive species requires early detection, at which environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling excels. However, the existing technologies for eDNA analysis are not cost-effective when many species are of interest. This project will directly transfer a biochip technology – developed under SERDP – that matches the sensitivity of current approach, best-practice eDNA analyses, but at substantially reduced cost. This project will develop and apply a 50-species eDNA biochip at DoD installations to test environmental samples for the presence of invasive species of national concern.
The 50-species biochip is based on high throughput quantitative polymerase chain reactions (qPCR), which has been shown to replicate the sensitivity and specificity of qPCR, but with greater efficiency and at substantially lower cost per species. This demonstration project will seek to 1) show high concordance between the biochip and the current qPCR approach and 2) illustrate applicability and flexibility of this tool for invasive species surveillance at two military installations. This work describes thresholds for success in achieving both goals (Tasks 2 and 3) as well as an extensive technology transition plan pending demonstration success.
eDNA sampling across 50 potential invaders is currently impractical when using qPCR analysis, which is the most sensitive current approach to eDNA sampling. Successful transition of this biochip for monitoring on installations will allow resource managers to screen more broadly for some of the worst invasive species in North America. Even if adoption of this technology is modest (100 samples per year), the project team expects that the biochip will reach pay-back in terms of data generated for cost in less than five years.