Debut of New Mobile eDNA Water Filtering Lab
BY STEVEN GAMBICKI ALPENA FWCO
Aquatic invasive species have always been a concern for Great Lakes enthusiasts. Since the 1800’s, over 180 non-native species have been found within the Great Lakes. Some have become problematic – also known as invasive species, causing severe environmental and economic losses. Once an invasive species is established, it is extremely difficult to control their spread and minimize their damage. New invasive species threaten the seven billion dollar a year Great Lakes fishery. Early detection of new invasive species is vital to protecting the Great Lakes fishery.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently began analyzing environmental DNA (eDNA) as a means of detecting the presence of aquatic invasive species genetic material. The Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) is using a new tool to streamline eDNA processing. Alpena FWCO staff took delivery of a new mobile eDNA water filtering lab in the fall of 2012. The mobile lab makes filtering of water samples for eDNA more efficient. During the months of May, June and July of 2013, Alpena FWCO staff has used the new mobile lab to filter water samples for early detection of invasive species from the Lake Huron-Lake Erie corridor, Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and St. Marys River.
water sample taken from the Muskegon River,
Michigan. Credit: USFWS
Water filtering for eDNA is logistically complicated to coordinate because of different sampling sites and the need for sterile filtering locations, deionized water and sterile equipment. With the new mobile lab all the equipment can be brought directly to the water sampling sites, saving hours of moving equipment and supplies. The mobile lab is a sterile self-contained unit that includes all the equipment necessary for filtering water samples. One issue is the need for large amounts of deionized water. Deionized water, used as a control during the filtering process, had to be acquired from cooperating institutions while in the field, or purchased in large quantities beforehand. The new mobile lab contains a deionized water system. Now deionized water is only the turn of a faucet handle away.
As the USFWS strives to protect the Great Lakes from new invasive species, and stem the spread of current invasive species, the new mobile eDNA water filtering lab is an excellent, sterile, fully functional lab on wheels.