Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is eDNA? 

Environmental DNA is free or cellular DNA found in aquatic or sedimentary environments as a direct result of shedding resulting from local biological processes. Living organism continuously shed DNA material into their environment, this material can be isolated and identified to indicate presence or absence of the organism in the system.

What are the advantages of using Onsite eDNA?

Since DNA degrades rapidly, the rate of degradation is dependent on temperature, pH, ecology and many other factors in the environment. We use our onsiteTripleLock™ platform, so there is no need to ship samples to a lab. This saves you time and avoids the risk of false negative results due to eDNA degradation during transit. Our TripleLock™ platform provides a full solution from advanced target qPCR test development to optimal survey design, onsite 2-minute sample preparation and trust-worthy reporting of results.

Why is survey design important?

Because eDNA particles are not distributed homogeneously in the environment, our surveys are designed to take the species’ biology, ecology, migration habits, and other factors into account in addition to the nature of the site (e.g.river vs wetlands) and water properties. Our eDNA Survey Design tool (patent pending) uses a proprietary method to account for crucial biological and environmental factors to calculate and maximize the probability of target eDNA detection and optimize the sampling strategy. Combined with our advanced sample collection methods, we conduct the most statistically sound eDNA surveys for outcomes you can trust.

What are you able to detect?

Our studies can inform:

  • Presence or absence of a target species in a specific environment
  • Distribution and migration of species using temporal and spatial coverage monitoring methods
  • Relative abundance of species including improving or declining populations through regular monitoring programs using metagenomics.

How is eDNA different from conventional methods?

Like with conventional methods the probability of detecting a target species using eDNA is based on the quality of the study design. The advantages of eDNA methods can be summarized as follows:

  • eDNA requires less time and fewer visits than conventional methods
  •  It saves costs by at least 25%
  •  Results may be more reliable because of the specificity and sensitivity of eDNA tests
  •  It can be especially useful when detection is challenging using conventional methods such as eggs, larvae for cryptic species that occur in low densities, that have discontinuous distributions or secretive life-histories (nocturnal, low observability). Environmental DNA can also be used when degraded samples are taken to identify prey in fecal matter and stomach contents
  •  It is not harmful to the fauna and does not disturb the habitat
  • It can be done in some cases over longer periods than conventional methods, expanding the time of year to complete surveys

What about false negatives? 

To minimize and eliminate false negatives, Precision Biomonitoring Inc will use:

  • Proprietary survey design methods, using factors related to species ecology and environmental metadata to maximize the probability of target species detection
  • Rigorously validate tests/assays that are highly specific and sensitive
  • Conduct onsite eDNA extractions to avoid risk of degradation during transit
  • A pre-site pilot study to check for substances that may interfere with qPCR analyses
  • Use of an internal positive control during qPCR analyses

Do I need any special training to conduct an eDNA study? 

Precision Biomonitoring is bringing molecular biology to the field. Our scientists and technicians are highly trained professionals in eDNA survey design, sample collection, and DNA extraction and analyses. We offer a formal training and certification program that you may pursue if it fits your need.

What if the species I need to detect are not listed on your website? 

We work with our clients and industry partners to develop a growing collection of gold-standard qPCR assays. Contact us for more information.

How much does it cost to conduct an eDNA survey? 

Assay and survey design are complex. We tailor our services and costs to fit your specific needs. Please contact us for more information.

What regions do you cover? 

While we are based in Canada, we offer our services internationally. Please reach out with any questions.