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Environmental DNA Reveals Seasonal Shifts and Potential Interactions in a Marine Community

Djurhuus, A., C.J. Closek, R.P. Kelly, K.J. Pitz, R.P. Michisaki, H.A. Starks, K.R. Walz, E.A. Andruszkiewicz, E. Olesin, K. Hubbard, E. Montes, D. Otis, F.E. Muller-Karger, F.P. Chavez, A.B. Boehm, and M. Breitbart (January 2020)

Nature Communications 11:254

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-14105-1


Environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis allows the simultaneous examination of organisms across multiple trophic levels and domains of life, providing critical information about the complex biotic interactions related to ecosystem change. Here we used multilocus amplicon sequencing of eDNA to survey biodiversity from an eighteen-month (2015–2016) time-series of seawater samples from Monterey Bay, California. The resulting dataset encompasses 663 taxonomic groups (at Family or higher taxonomic rank) ranging from microorganisms to mammals. We inferred changes in the composition of communities, revealing putative interactions among taxa and identifying correlations between these communities and environmental properties over time. Community network analysis provided evidence of expected predator-prey relationships, trophic linkages, and seasonal shifts across all domains of life. We conclude that eDNA-based analyses can provide detailed information about marine ecosystem dynamics and identify sensitive biological indicators that can suggest ecosystem changes and inform conservation strategies.


Reviewed: April 11, 2024
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