Fisheries, Midwest Region
Conserving the Nature of America
eDNA

Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a surveillance tool used to monitor for the genetic presence of an aquatic species. Currently, eDNA is used to monitor for the genetic presence of Bighead carp and Silver carp, two species of Asian carp. By sampling waters that could potentially be invaded by these species, the detection of their DNA can indicate the potential presence of the fish itself.

Compared to traditional methods for surveying of aquatic species (netting, electrofishing, rotenone application, etc.), the increased sensitivity of this method could be a valuable asset not only for invasive species but for threatened and endangered species, as well.

The Midwest Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has assumed eDNA sample processing responsibilities for the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS), and other areas of interest such as the Upper Mississippi River, Ohio River, and Great Lakes.  The responsibility was moved from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Engineering and Research Development Center, Center for eDNA Application and Research, to the Service's new Whitney Genetics Lab, in Onalaska, Wisconsin. You can find previous eDNA sample results from the CAWS on the USACE webpage.

TRANSITION

A transition plan was developed which established the criteria and requirements to move eDNA sample processing responsibilities to the Service. This transition brings a two year partnership of planning, constructing, equipping, staffing and calibrating a state of the art genetics lab to successful completion. This task was accomplished utilizing Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding through the Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework.

Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP)

As part of the sample processing transition, the Service will also manage responsibility for maintaining the Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP): eDNA Monitoring of Bighead and Silver Carps. The QAPP ensures continuity among all agencies involved in eDNA sampling activities by setting the same protocols for the collection and processing of eDNA samples.  
  • All GLRI funded activities that collect environmental DNA data must follow the QAPP.
  • The QAPP developed by the USACE-Service team has been peer-reviewed; the processes and methods have been audited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, verified in at least three independent federal labs as well as academic labs, and the methods have been evaluated by an independent external peer review team.
  • The updates, modifications, and improvements have also been validated in several laboratories, and have been peer-reviewed, as part of the on-going GLRI funded interagency eDNA Calibration Study
  • Appendix B of the QAPP also details the eDNA Communication SOP for flow of eDNA results within the Service, and from the Service to affected partners.  
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