Effects of Temperature and Trophic State on Degradation of Environmental DNA in Lake Water

Jessica J Eichmiller, Sendréa E. Best, Peter W Sorensen

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198 Scopus citations


Degradation of environmental DNA (eDNA) in aquatic habitats can affect the interpretation of eDNA data and the ability to detect aquatic organisms. The effect of temperature and trophic state on the decay of Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) eDNA was evaluated using lake water microcosms and quantitative PCR for a Common Carp-specific genetic marker in two experiments. The first experiment tested the effect of temperature on Common Carp eDNA decay. Common Carp eDNA exhibited exponential decay that increased with temperature. The slowest decay rate was observed at 5°C, with a T90 value (time to 90% reduction from initial concentration) of 6.6 days, as opposed to ∼1 day at higher temperatures. In a second experiment, decay was compared across waters from lakes of different trophic states. In this experiment, Common Carp eDNA exhibited biphasic exponential decay, characterized by rapid decay for 3-8 days followed by slow decay. Decay rate was slowest in dystrophic water and fastest in oligotrophic water, and decay rate was negatively correlated to dissolved organic carbon concentration. The overall rapid decay of eDNA and the effects of temperature and water quality should be considered in protocols for water sample storage and field sampling design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1859-1867
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 16 2016

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Chemical Society.


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