The future is already here
Kristina Cermakova (ID-Gene ecodiagnostics) mit Jan Pawlowski
The past decade has seen a rapid development of various applications of environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding to monitor and assess the biodiversity. The analyses of eDNA sequences have been used to detect species of particular concern (endangered, invasive, pathogenic) as well as to provide a holistic overview of wide range of taxa. The eDNA approach can be applied to all types of environments (including water, air, soil, and sediment) and can target all types of organisms, including the most inconspicuous ones that are usually overlooked by conventional methods. Here, we will present some examples of eDNA studies conducted in Switzerland and we will discuss the benefits and challenges of using eDNA as a complement to traditional monitoring. We will present the advances in eDNA-based monitoring of aquatic ecosystems, focusing on detection of invasive species and global species inventories that can be used to assess the ecological status of rivers and lakes. We will also introduce the perspectives of airborne eDNA analyses to assess the diversity of terrestrial fauna and flora. Finally, we will present the current status of DNA barcoding of Swiss fauna and flora and we will discuss the importance of local reference databases to increase the accuracy and reliability of eDNA analyses.