Invasive species detection

During my PhD I explored different application of eDNA for the detection of UK priority invasive alien macroinvertebrate species in rivers: targeted assays or species-specific detection using standard and qPCR and metabarcoding or community detection using Next Generation Sequencing. My aim was to demonstrate the application of these tools, firstly through a series of intensive mesocosm aimed at gaining a greater insight into how these species shed DNA. Secondly, by carrying out a number of field experiments designed to see how flow in river systems effects the DNA of these target species. (Blackman et al (in review) Targeting the invaders – targeted detection of four priority freshwater invasive non-native species using environmental DNA)

Target species:

Dreissenid mussels:

Dreissena rostriformis bugensis, quagga mussel, first found in the UK in 2014 in the River Wraysbury and is currently isolated to the Thames catchment having spread through water transfers between reservoirs. D. polymopha, zebra mussel thought to have arrived in the 1820s most likely due to the timber trade and is widespread and common in much of the UK. 

Dikerogammarus shrimp:

Dikerogammarus villosus, killer shrimp, first found in Grafham Water, Cambridgeshire in 2010 and now present in 5 locations in the UK and D. haemobaphes, demon shrimp first detected in the UK in 2012 but has quickly spread through the canal network.