Searching for DNA in Water To Test for the Presence of Freshwater Mussels

800 532 Stroud Water Research Center

Determining that a species is present in a stream has traditionally required collection surveys to visually observe one or more individuals of that species. However, collection surveys may harm rare or endangered species, are time consuming, and may miss wellcamouflaged or hidden species. On the other hand, aquatic organisms are continuously releasing DNA into the environment that is either free floating or in small clusters of cells. We are developing a noninvasive survey technique to search for DNA sequences that are unique to freshwater mussels in a sample of water. We will apply this technique to search for freshwater mussels in White Clay, Red Clay, and Brandywine creeks.

Funded by: DuPont Clear Into the Future (2013), National Science Foundation Critical Zone Observatory Research Experience for Undergraduates (2014)

Principal Investigator: William H. Eldridge

Project Years: 2013, 2014