Environmental Science and Management (ESM)
Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Environmental DNA, Unionids, Conservation, Sequencing, Biological Surveys
North America is home to approximately one third of the world's freshwater mussel species. They are highly imperiled organisms due to habitat destruction and invasive species. Traditional surveys rely on visual identification of mussels, but individuals tend to be rare and difficult to identify. An alternative method is to extract environmental DNA (eDNA) from water samples, which has advantages over traditional sampling, including less sampling effort and fewer hazards to researchers and organisms. We conducted a review of the two main eDNA approaches: single-species detection and metabarcoding. We also developed and validated metabarcoding primers for the detection of native mussels. Four primer pairs in the mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase 1 were validated using an equimolar mock mixture, revealing their amplification bias. The eDNA methods described in this project could make surveys faster, more affordable, and more accurate, leading to more effective conservation of mussels and the environment.
Bennett, M. (2023). DETECTING NATIVE FRESHWATER MUSSELS IN PENNSYLVANIA WATERWAYS: COMPARISON & VALIDATION OF ENVIRONMENTAL DNA METHODS (Master's thesis, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/2135