December 09, 2022
For decades, the only way to see what was in an ecosystem was to go into that ecosystem and SEE it. This painstaking method of observation was expensive and time-consuming and it was difficult to know what was happening at the microscopic level.
Genomics is revolutionizing environmental surveillance and monitoring through the advent of environmental DNA – or eDNA – testing, which samples genetic material released by plants or animals into the environment.
eDNA is like a blood test for the environment. Now, just a single scoop of water, soil, sediment, or even a sample of air, can tell us what species are in an ecosystem and their abundance.
The iTrackDNA project, a $12 million collaboration between Genome British Columbia, Genome Canada, Génome Québec, and a multitude of public and private supporters, including Parks Canada, is filling a critical gap in eDNA resource development, sequencing 100 priority species, and establishing Canada as a front-runner in the use of eDNA testing. The project works in tandem with First Nations communities and provides sampling training to First Nations partners.
eDNA promises to provide faster, cheaper, more accurate data. The iTrack DNA project is setting the standard for eDNA assessment tools by creating test kits, establishing training and certification for eDNA testing and developing testing guidelines for eDNA tools to ensure that the results provided by researchers using eDNA methods are accurate and trustworthy.
Enjoy the following video about the achievements of the iTrackDNA project and discover how even a single drop of water is rich in scientific knowledge.