The effect of dilution and the use of a post-extraction nucleic acid purification column on the accuracy, precision, and inhibition of environmental DNA samples

Biological Conservation
By: , and 

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Abstract

Isolation of environmental DNA (eDNA) is an increasingly common method for detecting presence and assessing relative abundance of rare or elusive species in aquatic systems via the isolation of DNA from environmental samples and the amplification of species-specific sequences using quantitative PCR (qPCR). Co-extracted substances that inhibit qPCR can lead to inaccurate results and subsequent misinterpretation about a species’ status in the tested system. We tested three treatments (5-fold and 10-fold dilutions, and spin-column purification) for reducing qPCR inhibition from 21 partially and fully inhibited eDNA samples collected from coastal plain wetlands and mountain headwater streams in the southeastern USA. All treatments reduced the concentration of DNA in the samples. However, column purified samples retained the greatest sensitivity. For stream samples, all three treatments effectively reduced qPCR inhibition. However, for wetland samples, the 5-fold dilution was less effective than other treatments. Quantitative PCR results for column purified samples were more precise than the 5-fold and 10-fold dilutions by 2.2× and 3.7×, respectively. Column purified samples consistently underestimated qPCR-based DNA concentrations by approximately 25%, whereas the directional bias in qPCR-based DNA concentration estimates differed between stream and wetland samples for both dilution treatments. While the directional bias of qPCR-based DNA concentration estimates differed among treatments and locations, the magnitude of inaccuracy did not. Our results suggest that 10-fold dilution and column purification effectively reduce qPCR inhibition in mountain headwater stream and coastal plain wetland eDNA samples, and if applied to all samples in a study, column purification may provide the most accurate relative qPCR-based DNA concentrations estimates while retaining the greatest assay sensitivity.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The effect of dilution and the use of a post-extraction nucleic acid purification column on the accuracy, precision, and inhibition of environmental DNA samples
Series title Biological Conservation
DOI 10.1016/j.biocon.2014.11.031
Volume 183
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) South Atlantic Water Science Center
Description 7 p.
First page 70
Last page 76
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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