Considerations for future environmental DNA accreditation and proficiency testing schemes

Trujillo-González, Alejandro, Villacorta Rath, Cecilia, White, Nicole E., Furlan, Elise M., Sykes, Mark, Grossel, Geoff, Divi, Uday K., and Gleeson, Dianne (2021) Considerations for future environmental DNA accreditation and proficiency testing schemes. Environmental DNA, 3 (6). pp. 1049-1058.

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Environmental DNA (eDNA) monitoring has revolutionized the way biodiversity is surveyed and has been proposed as a reliable method to inform management decisions. Recognition of eDNA techniques as reliable tools to inform management and biosecurity require stringent standards to assess sample quality and reliability of results. Laboratories can have their workflows assessed and certified through accreditation and be involved in proficiency testing schemes provided to test the accuracy and precision of molecular methods. Currently, there is only one eDNA-based proficiency testing scheme designed to test competency of laboratories in amplifying eDNA from the Great Crested Newt, Triturus cristatus (Laurenti, 1768) in water samples. This test, however, is a closed scheme currently run by invitation only to laboratories in the United Kingdom. Given the paucity of eDNA-based proficiency schemes to ensure high-quality services, this commentary discusses how future proficiency testing schemes could be designed to assess eDNA sample quality and reliability on detection results for environmental management and biosecurity applications. We discuss the use of tissue-derived and synthetic oligonucleotides as reference materials, the need for proficiency testing schemes to assess the capacity of analytical facilities to determine sample quality as well as accurately detecting trace eDNA in blind samples and discuss the context in which fit for purpose eDNA testing schemes could be designed. To complement the future development of eDNA proficiency testing schemes, we provide firsthand accounts and lessons learned while developing the current Great Crested Newt eDNA proficiency scheme. Lastly, we highlight current limitations in standardizing rapidly improving eDNA-based techniques and discuss disadvantages to accreditation and standardization from an Australian-centered perspective as a means to promote an active debate on the topic of future eDNA accreditation and proficiency testing.

Item ID: 68808
Item Type: Article (Commentary)
ISSN: 2637-4943
Keywords: accreditation; international standard; International Organization for Accreditation; monitoring; surveillance
Copyright Information: © 2021 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non commercial Lencense, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in an medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes
Funders: National Environment Science Program (NESP)Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub of Australia, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE)
Projects and Grants: NESP Project 4.3: Northern Australia eDNA program - revolutionising aquatic monitoring and field surveys in tropical waters, DAWE Biosecurity Innovation Program (ID 182020)
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2021 01:58
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410402 Environmental assessment and monitoring @ 35%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 35%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3105 Genetics > 310599 Genetics not elsewhere classified @ 30%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180601 Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems @ 36%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1802 Coastal and estuarine systems and management > 180201 Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems @ 32%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180599 Marine systems and management not elsewhere classified @ 32%
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