Comparison of materials for rapid passive collection of environmental DNA

Cindy Bessey, Yuan Gao, Yen Bach Truong, Haylea Miller, Simon Neil Jarman, Oliver Berry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Passive collection is an emerging sampling method for environmental DNA (eDNA) in aquatic systems. Passive eDNA collection is inexpensive and efficient, and requires minimal equipment, making it suited to high-density sampling and remote deployment. Here, we compare the effectiveness of nine membrane materials for passively collecting fish eDNA from a 3-million-litre marine mesocosm. We submerged materials (cellulose, cellulose with 1% and 3% chitosan, cellulose overlayed with electrospun nanofibres and 1% chitosan, cotton fibres, hemp fibres, and sponge with either zeolite or active carbon) for intervals between 5 and 1080 min. We show that for most materials, with as little as 5 min of submersion, mitochondrial fish eDNA measured with qPCR, and fish species richness measured with metabarcoding, was comparable to that collected by conventional filtering. Furthermore, PCR template DNA concentrations and species richness were generally not improved significantly by longer submersion. Species richness detected for all materials ranged between 11 and 37 species, with a median of 27, which was comparable to the range for filtered eDNA (19–32). Using scanning electron microscopy, we visualized biological matter adhering to the surface of materials, rather than entrapped, with images also revealing a diversity in size and structure of putative eDNA particles. eDNA can be collected rapidly from seawater with a passive approach and using a variety of materials. This will suit cost- and time-sensitive biological surveys, and where access to equipment is limited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2559-2572
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Ecology Resources
Issue number7
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


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