Considerations for future environmental DNA accreditation and proficiency testing schemes

Alejandro Trujillo-González, Cecilia Villacorta-Rath, Nicole E. White, Elise M. Furlan, Mark Sykes, Geoff Grossel, Uday K. Divi, Dianne Gleeson

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
56 Downloads (Pure)


Environmental DNA (eDNA) monitoring has revolutionized the way biodiversity is surveyed and has been proposed as a reliable method to inform management decisions. Recognition of eDNA techniques as reliable tools to inform management and biosecurity require stringent standards to assess sample quality and reliability of results. Laboratories can have their workflows assessed and certified through accreditation and be involved in proficiency testing schemes provided to test the accuracy and precision of molecular methods. Currently, there is only one eDNA-based proficiency testing scheme designed to test competency of laboratories in amplifying eDNA from the Great Crested Newt, Triturus cristatus (Laurenti, 1768) in water samples. This test, however, is a closed scheme currently run by invitation only to laboratories in the United Kingdom. Given the paucity of eDNA-based proficiency schemes to ensure high-quality services, this commentary discusses how future proficiency testing schemes could be designed to assess eDNA sample quality and reliability on detection results for environmental management and biosecurity applications. We discuss the use of tissue-derived and synthetic oligonucleotides as reference materials, the need for proficiency testing schemes to assess the capacity of analytical facilities to determine sample quality as well as accurately detecting trace eDNA in blind samples and discuss the context in which fit for purpose eDNA testing schemes could be designed. To complement the future development of eDNA proficiency testing schemes, we provide firsthand accounts and lessons learned while developing the current Great Crested Newt eDNA proficiency scheme. Lastly, we highlight current limitations in standardizing rapidly improving eDNA-based techniques and discuss disadvantages to accreditation and standardization from an Australian-centered perspective as a means to promote an active debate on the topic of future eDNA accreditation and proficiency testing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1049-1058
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental DNA
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


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