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eDNA for terrestrial biosecurity monitoring

This project focuses on advancing biosecurity through the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) technology, with a specific emphasis on terrestrial biosecurity monitoring. The goal is to develop and implement efficient eDNA methodologies for detecting plant pests and diseases, enhancing biosecurity decision-making.


While eDNA has been successfully used in marine pest detection, this project aims to extend its applications to terrestrial biosecurity. The project will collect eDNA from the air to potentially identify invasive taxa like weeds, pathogens, and insects.


The project’s biosecurity outcomes include providing new tools for landscape-scale eDNA sampling, enabling confident confirmation and delimitation of plant pest and disease incursions.


From a scientific perspective, the project will develop new eDNA aggregation methods, purification techniques, and species identification assays while addressing detection limits and false positives.


Māori aspirations are integrated into the project through collaborations with Māori partners and stakeholders, ensuring the protection of indigenous species and active engagement as biosecurity partners.


The project’s success will lead to the confident deployment of eDNA technology for biosecurity surveillance and the development of national capabilities in eDNA. It will also support international collaboration in assessing importation risk pathways.


A workshop with key stakeholders in the field of biosecurity was undertaken to address concerns related to sensitivity, false discovery rates, and optimal deployment settings for eDNA technology, ensuring its successful adoption and implementation. The project has also initiated work to evaluate air eDNA samplers to assess their efficiency and effectiveness in capturing terrestrial biosecurity-related DNA and determine the sensitivity of detection.


This project is poised to significantly improve biosecurity by advancing eDNA technology, scientific knowledge, and fostering collaboration with Māori partners. The project will contribute to more effective and efficient biosecurity measures for New Zealand.


Contact Project Leader Andrew Cridge: [email protected]

Contact Project Co Leader Simon Bulman: [email protected]