November 2018/ By David Eisenhauer
On a warm afternoon last August, Matt Negron stood with his toes at the edge of a mossy pond at Berkshire National Fish Hatchery in western Massachusetts. His eyes were fixed on the tip of his neon-green Zebco fishing rod. The rod twitched, twitched again, then bent down sharply.
“I’ve got one! I’ve got one!” yelled Negron, a 17-year-old from Manhattan with dark curly hair, half of which was dyed orange.
BY GRETCHEN NEWBERRY AND EMY MONROE, MIDWEST FISHERIES CENTER
What happens when our Fish and Wildlife Conservation Offices send their water samples to the Whitney Genetics Lab? As the eDNA collection season winds down, we thought we would take a moment to peer into the mysteries behind the lab’s biosecurity doors and show the eDNA lab process step by step.
The water samples containing potential Asian carp genetic material arrive at the Midwest Fisheries Center in Onalaska, Wisconsin. Whitney lab staff use commercial kits to extract DNA from a pellet found at the bottom of each sample. The kits breaks down cell membranes to release cellular contents, including DNA. To purify the DNA, detergents from the kits are used to wash away fats, proteins, and other organic matter from the DNA. The final extract may contain tiny amounts of silver or bighead carp DNA, or DNA from other aquatic organisms.