Aquatic environmental DNA (eDNA)


Since ever fishers, children, and scientists have dreamed of sampling the oceans’ free-ranging animals without the need to capture or even observe them red-handed. We stand on the beach or a boat and dream of wearing magic goggles that allow us to know the diversity, distribution, and abundance of marine life.

About 20 years ago, researchers glimpsed the realization of the dream, when they appreciated that animals shed DNA in aquatic environments, and that studies of these genetic fragments, known as environmental or eDNA, might provide the evidence from which we could conjure accurate, timely descriptions of marine life. 

In collaboration with Monmouth University, we are exploring the marine waters of New York City and New Jersey with eDNA. Link to our work is here.

We organized the first National Conference on Marine Environmental DNA, held at Rockefeller University, November 29-30, 2018. The Conference included approximately 100 American ocean scientists and associated stakeholders, including representatives from academe, federal, state, and local governments, non-governmental organizations concerned with marine environment, and the private sector. The strong sense of the meeting was “eDNA works–let’s get going.” The Conference Final Report and press release summarize the conference proceedings and outline concrete steps forward.

Publications about Aquatic environmental DNA (eDNA)

JH Ausubel, MY Stoeckle, PG Gaffney II. Final Report, First National Conference on Marine Environmental DNA (PDF). 2019

JH Ausubel, MY Stoeckle. The eDNA Revolution (PDF). Sea Technology : 2019

MY Stoeckle , MD Mishu, Z Charlop-Powers. GoFish: A versatile nested PCR strategy for environmental DNA assays for marine vertebrates [external link]. Plos One 2018

JH Ausubel, MY Stoeckle, P Gaffney. Marine eDNA 101 (PDF) [external link]. 2018

MY Stoeckle, L Soboleva, Z Charlop-Powers. Aquatic environmental DNA detects seasonal fish abundance and habitat preference in an urban estuary [external link]. PLoS ONE 12 (4): 2017 e0175186.

MS Stoeckle. Fishing for DNA: Free-floating eDNA identifies presence and abundance of ocean life [external link]. The Conversation 2017