An expert-driven framework for applying eDNA tools to improve biosecurity in the Antarctic

Clarke, Laurence J., Shaw, Justine D., Suter, Leonie, Atalah, Javier, Bergstrom, Dana M., Biersma, Elisabeth, Convey, Peter, Greve, Michelle, Holland, Oakes, Houghton, Melissa J., Hughes, Kevin A., Johnston, Emma L., King, Catherine K., McCarthy, Arlie H., McGaughran, Angela, Pertierra, Luis R., Robinson, Sharon A., Sherman, Craig D.H., Stark, Jonathan S., Stevens, Mark I., Strugnell, Jan M., von Ammon, Ulla, Wilson, Nerida G., Zaiko, Anastasija, and MacDonald, Anna J. (2023) An expert-driven framework for applying eDNA tools to improve biosecurity in the Antarctic. Management of Biological Invasions, 14 (3). pp. 379-402.

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Abstract

Signatories to the Antarctic Treaty System’s Environmental Protocol are committed to preventing incursions of non-native species into Antarctica, but systematic surveillance is rare. Environmental DNA (eDNA) methods provide new opportunities for enhancing detection of non-native species and biosecurity monitoring. To be effective for Antarctic biosecurity, eDNA tests must have appropriate sensitivity and specificity to distinguish non-native from native Antarctic species, and be fit-for-purpose. This requires knowledge of the priority risk species or taxonomic groups for which eDNA surveillance will be informative, validated eDNA assays for those species or groups, and reference DNA sequences for both target non-native and related native Antarctic species. Here, we used an expert elicitation process and decision-by-consensus approach to identify and assess priority biosecurity risks for the Australian Antarctic Program (AAP) in East Antarctica, including identifying high priority non-native species and their potential transport pathways. We determined that the priority targets for biosecurity monitoring were not individual species, but rather broader taxonomic groups such as mussels (Mytilus species), tunicates (Ascidiacea), springtails (Collembola), and grasses (Poaceae). These groups each include multiple species with high risks of introduction to and/or establishment in Antarctica. The most appropriate eDNA methods for the AAP must be capable of detecting a range of species within these high-risk groups (e.g., eDNA metabarcoding). We conclude that the most beneficial Antarctic eDNA biosecurity applications include surveillance of marine species in nearshore environments, terrestrial invertebrates, and biofouling species on vessels visiting Antarctica. An urgent need exists to identify suitable genetic markers for detecting priority species groups, establish baseline terrestrial and marine biodiversity for Antarctic stations, and develop eDNA sampling methods for detecting biofouling organisms.

Item ID: 80861
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1989-8649
Keywords: biofouling, environmental DNA, marine, non-native species, risk assessment, Southern Ocean, terrestrial
Copyright Information: © Clarke et al. This is an open access article distributed under terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (Attribution 4.0 International - CC BY 4.0)
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC SR200100005
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2024 22:31
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4103 Environmental biotechnology > 410305 Environmental marine biotechnology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280111 Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences @ 100%
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