Jesse Ausubel to receive 2022 Nierenberg Prize

Jesse Ausubel will be honored with the 2022 Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest. This award is presented annually by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and the Nierenberg Family to honor the memory of William A. Nierenberg, an esteemed physicist and national science leader who served Scripps Oceanography as director for two decades. Previous awardees include atmospheric scientist Warren Washington, biochemist and Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna, filmmaker Sir David Attenborough, and primatologist Dame Jane Goodall, among others.

eDNA degradation; 2nd National Workshop

PHE’s guest investigator David Thaler offers some stimulating ideas in a memo about ways of understanding and learning from degradation of aquatic eDNA. The title: How long has each particular species’ eDNA been outside the organism from which it came? Some thoughts on the possibility to obtain more information from eDNA analysis of water samples

Meanwhile, Jesse Ausubel and Mark Stoeckle are involved in the program for the 2nd US National Workshop on eDNA, 12-15 September in Southern California. PHE hosted the 1st US national meeting in 2018.

PHE eDNA student project a finalist in 2022 Genius Olympiad

Samara Davis’s salamander eDNA project is a finalist in 2022 Genius Olympiad.  Genius Olympiad is an international high school project competition about environmental issues founded and organized by Terra Science and Education and hosted by the Rochester Institute of Technology. The Olympiad will host projects in five general disciplines with an environmental focus.  

Airborne DNA

PHE’s marine eDNA expert Mark Stoeckle comments on new papers on airborne eDNA in the video Scientists ID Dozens of Plants, Animals from Free-Floating DNA. In a trio of studies, researchers report capturing and analyzing airborne prepared for the magazine and website The Scientist.  The report is spurred by widely reported terrific new papers measuring airborne DNA around zoos.

While presented as a first, this study of airborne DNA began in 2005 under the auspices of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Paula Olsiewski and Jesse Ausubel recruited and managed a series of grants to explore the potential for airborne DNA studies. The largest grant went to the Venter Institute, which pioneered the techniques:

After Mapping the Human Genome, Analyzing the City’s Air Mar 7, 2005 — Dr J Craig Venter will study New York City’s air by installing filter system atop one of Midtown-Manhattan’s skyscrapers and studying its …  

  Among resulting publications: A metagenomic framework for the study of airborne microbial communities  …, J Glass, MD Adams, R Friedman, JC Venter – PloS one, 2013 –  Understanding the microbial content of the air has important scientific, health, and economic  implications. While studies have primarily characterized the taxonomic content of air samples by sequencing the 16S or 18S ribosomal RNA gene, direct analysis of the genomic …

Among other findings, while focusing on microbial aspects, the Venter team found more rat DNA circulating in the air of NY than human DNA.

Journal of Marine Science publishes our latest on eDNA protocols

Current laboratory protocols for detecting fish species with environmental DNA optimize sensitivity and reproducibility, especially for more abundant populations by Mark Y Stoeckle, Jason Adolf, Jesse H Ausubel, Zach Charlop-Powers, Keith J Dunton, Greg Hinks appears in ICES Journal of Marine Science, fsab273, 11 January 2022.

We test modifications to lab components of an eDNA metabarcoding protocol for marine finfish. Higher-read (more abundant) species were amplified more reproducibly and with less variation in read number than were lower-read (less abundant) species. Our results support the unofficial standard collection volume of one liter for eDNA assessment of commonly encountered marine fish species. We conclude that eDNA rarity poses the main challenge to current methods.

The paper is a sequel to our December 2020 entry: Fish abundance survey by eDNA published

Thanks to our partners at Monmouth University, the New Jersey Bureau of Marine Fisheries, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Mark and Jesse give NOAA ‘Omics seminar on “Fishing for DNA”

Thanks to Tracy Gill and Katharine Egan, Mark Stoeckle and Jesse Ausubel gave a NOAA-wide “Omics” seminar. 29 October 2021. Title and abstract are below.  View the recording of the webinar via Adobe Connect, here: Thanks to the attendees for lotss of great questions and the lively to-and-fro in the Chat Box.

Title: Fishing for DNA: how much water to catch and other questions

Abstract: Measuring quantities of eDNA is fast becoming a preferred method of learning the presence and abundance of fish and other aquatic species. But how much water need one filter and how much DNA need one process to obtain a reasonably complete and reproducible answer? Tests of an eDNA metabarcoding protocol for marine bony fish show more water, more species of fish up to levels tested. Amplifying decreasing amounts of extracted DNA yields progressively fewer species. Species represented by more copies (reads) of their DNA are detected more reproducibly and with less variation than lower-read species. Findings are consistent with Poisson distribution of rarer eDNA. We also vary PCR cycles, sequencing depth, primer concentrations, and primers. Our findings have multiple practical implications, including for survey strategies for both common and rare species, and identify some limits of knowledge and research directions for aquatic eDNA science.

NOAA Science Seminar page

NOAA ‘Omics Website