The National Biodiversity DNA Library
Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a simple and game-changing way to monitor the natural environment. From samples such as water or soil, we can sequence DNA fragments shed by plants and animals, and map the species present in an area. Using this method, we can survey biodiversity in remote landscapes, provide early warning of pest incursions, detect all the fish species on a reef, and much more. eDNA approaches offer the transformational potential to use DNA species identification to address Australia’s most pressing environmental management challenges. But using this method relies heavily on reference libraries of DNA sequences which are used to match these eDNA fragments to the species that shed them.
Unfortunately, DNA reference sequences only exist for a small fraction of Australia’s plant and animal species, and vary widely in their reliability and available genetic information. Until we resolve this, we’ll be unable to realise the potential of eDNA in Australia and the results of eDNA applications will be patchy and incomplete. That’s why we are working with our partners to develop a comprehensive genetic data infrastructure to enable high integrity DNA species identifications for all named Australian plants and animals. Developed entirely from specimens held in Australia’s natural history collections and employing whole reference genomes, the library is set to create enormous national benefit in supporting industries across fisheries, agriculture, biosecurity, environmental management, wildlife crime enforcement and tourism.
Lead: Jenny Giles
You can read about this exciting initiative to establish a DNA Library at National Biodiversity DNA Library.