The environmental DNA (eDNA) technique is a convenient and powerful tool to detect rare species. Knowledge of the degradation rate of eDNA in water is important for understanding how degradation influences the presence and/or estimate biomass of aquatic animals. We developed a new set of species-specific primers and probe to detect eDNA of Japanese eel Anguilla japonica, which is a commercially important and endangered species, and then conducted a laboratory experiment to quantify the temperature-dependent degradation of emitted eDNA. Eels were held in tanks at five different temperature levels from 10 to 30 °C and water from each tank was sampled and kept in bottles at each temperature over 6 days. The concentration of eDNA was measured every day and the results showed that temperature (T) had a significant and positive effect on the degradation rate (k) as k = 0.02T + 0.18. Improved understanding of the effect of temperature on degradation rates would help data interpretations and adjustments would increase the reliability of eDNA analysis in future studies.
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We would like to thank Dr. Carl Ostberg at the Western Fisheries Research Center, US Geological Survey, for useful discussions and carefully proofreading the manuscript. This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant number 17H01412.
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Kasai, A., Takada, S., Yamazaki, A. et al. The effect of temperature on environmental DNA degradation of Japanese eel. Fish Sci 86, 465–471 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12562-020-01409-1