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.  

Call for Global Library of Underwater Biological Sounds

A paper by the Working Group on Acoustic Measurement of Ocean Biodiversity Hotspots of the International Quiet Ocean Experiment (IQOE) published “Sounding the Call for a Global Library of Biological Underwater Sounds” in the journal “Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.”   Congratulations to Miles Parsons, Aran Mooney, Lucia di Iorio and company on a landmark contribution, which should become a major acoustic goal of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

Terry Collins’ press release contains a superb description of the paper as well as snippets of sound from a toadfish, piranha, gurnard fish, sea urchin, crab, and whale and information about 14 sound libraries.

The Guardian, United Kingdom Fish love songs and fighting talk: underwater sound library to reveal language of the deep

El Mundo, Madrid, La ‘biblioteca’ de los sonidos submarinos: los científicos graban el coro natural de los habitantes del océano

Popular Science, Why ocean researchers want to create a global library of undersea sounds

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, in fact under the auspices of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation beginning in 2005 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 – journals.plos.org  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.

Andy Marshall Foundation seminar on experimentation, intellectual courage and mentorship

For its 2021 Annual Review, the Andrew W. Marshall Foundation presented an hour-long seminar in which Jesse Ausubel speaks briefly on experimentation, Melissa Flagg on intellectual courage, and Dan Patt on mentorship, followed by Q&A. IGood session. Jesse’s 5 minutes of remarks, titled Don’t Do Anything for the First Time, begin 15 minutes into the session following Jaymie Durnan’s opening review.

Video of Wrap-up of Clean Ocean webinar

For a global overview of marine pollution in 90 minutes, watch the lively Wrap-up session of the 17-19 November UN Ocean Decade “Clean Ocean” webinar Jesse co-moderated.  Co-moderator begins the program and Jesse joins after about 4 minutes 30 seconds.

The Clean Ocean Manifesto and Press Release are here.  The “Clean Ocean” initiative is one of the 7 components of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

Photos below show the Berlin production studio for the webinar.