Extraction and identification of DNA from an environmental sample has proven noteworthy recently in detecting and monitoring not only common species, but also those that are endangered, invasive, or elusive. Particular attributes of so-called environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis render it a potent tool for elucidating mechanistic insights in ecological and evolutionary processes. Foremost among these is an improved ability to explore ecosystem-level processes, the generation of quantitative indices for analyses of species, community diversity, and dynamics, and novel opportunities through the use of time-serial samples and unprecedented sensitivity for detecting rare or difficult-to-sample taxa. Although technical challenges remain, here we examine the current frontiers of eDNA, outline key aspects requiring improvement, and suggest future developments and innovations for research.
Keywords: biodiversity; environmental DNA; metabarcoding; metagenomics; monitoring; second-generation sequencing; wildlife.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.