Validation of eDNA as a viable method of detection for dangerous cubozoan jellyfish

Bolte, Brett, Goldsbury, Julie, Huerlimann, Roger, Jerry, Dean, and Kingsford, Mike (2021) Validation of eDNA as a viable method of detection for dangerous cubozoan jellyfish. Environmental DNA, 3 (4). pp. 769-779.

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Abstract

Stings from certain species of cubozoan jellyfish are dangerous to humans and their seasonal presence in tropical marine waters poses a significant risk to coastal communities. The detection of cubozoans is difficult due to high spatial and temporal variation in their occurrence and abundance. Environmental DNA (eDNA) has the potential to detect rare species and therefore offers potential to detect cubozoans, not only pelagic medusae, but presence of cryptic polyp life stages. The objective of this study was to validate the use of eDNA as a viable detection method for four cubozoan species (Chironex fleckeri, Copula sivickisi, Carybdea xaymacana, and Carukia barnesi). Species‐specific primers were developed for each of these four cubozoans and an eDNA approach validated utilizing both laboratory and field trials. Laboratory DNA degradation experiments demonstrated that C. sivickisi DNA degraded quickly but could still be detected in sea water for up to 9 days post‐jellyfish removal. Positive detection was found for C. fleckeri, C. xaymacana, and C. sivickisi medusae in the waters surrounding Magnetic Island, Queensland, in the Austral spring/summer (September‐January). Based on visual surveys, there was a poor relationship between concentration of eDNA and abundance of jellyfish. Positive eDNA amplification was also found from water sampled near the substratum when C. sivickisi medusae were out of season and absent. This suggests the eDNA analysis was likely detecting C. sivickisi polyps located within the substratum. Consequently, eDNA is an effective tool to detect both the medusae and likely polyps of cubozoans. This approach provides the means to reduce the risk of envenomation to swimmers and enhance our knowledge of cubozoan ecology.

Item ID: 67536
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2637-4943
Keywords: cubozoan, environmental DNA, Irukandji, jellyfish, PCR
Copyright Information: © 2021 The Authors. Environmental DNA published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2021 01:52
FoR Codes: 30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3005 Fisheries sciences > 300504 Fish physiology and genetics @ 100%
SEO Codes: 10 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 1003 Fisheries - wild caught > 100399 Fisheries - wild caught not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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