Invasive terrestrial invertebrate detection in water and soil using a targeted eDNA approach

Cecilia Villacorta-Rath, Lori Lach, Natalia Andrade-Rodriguez, Damien Burrows, Dianne Gleeson, Alejandro Trujillo-González

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Terrestrial invasive invertebrates can rapidly colonise new areas, causing detrimental effects on biodiversity, economy and lifestyle. Targeted environmental DNA (eDNA) methods could constitute an early detection tool given their sensitivity to small numbers of individuals. We hypothesised that terrestrial runoff would transport eDNA from the land into adjacent waterbodies and used the invasive yellow crazy ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes) as a model species to test this hypothesis. We collected water samples from four waterbodies adjacent (< 10 m from the creek edge) to infestations following rainfall events for eDNA analysis. We also collected soil samples from areas of known infestations and tested five eDNA extraction methods to determine their efficiency to extract eDNA from soil. Water samples resulted in positive yellow crazy ant eDNA amplification (20–100% field replicates across all sites), even at one site located 300 m away from where ants had been detected visually. Soil samples resulted in a higher percentage of false negatives when sampled from ant transit areas than from nest entrances. Unpurified DNA extracts from soil also resulted in false negative detections and only after applying a purification step of DNA extracts, did we detect yellow crazy ant eDNA in 40–100% of field replicates across all methods and sites. This is the first study to empirically show that eDNA from a terrestrial invertebrate can be successfully isolated and amplified from adjacent or downstream waterbodies. Our results indicate that eDNA has the potential to be a useful method for detecting terrestrial invertebrates from soil and water.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)71-89
    Number of pages19
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


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