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Environomics = environmental genomics.

The Environomics Future Science Platform at CSIRO is using genomics, bioinformatics and nanotechnologies, to reinvent how we measure and monitor ecosystem health, change and threats, and find new resources in nature.

The challenge

In aquatic environments, plants and animals shed fragments of their DNA into the water. By collecting and reading this environmental DNA (eDNA) we can identify the presence of species without having to see or capture them. This information can support environmental management.

CSIRO staff dressed for filtering eDNA from seawater.

But realising the potential of eDNA depends on developing new, robust technologies for sampling and analysis of eDNA.

What we're doing

Our technology development spans sample collection methods, DNA extraction and amplification of targeted sequences, pipelines to examine DNA sequence information, and statistical analyses.

We carried out one of the largest ever field trials of eDNA sampling techniques for fish in Ashmore Reef Marine Park. This showed using eDNA to detect the presence of fish species was faster and discovered more species than traditional methods such as diving or filming underwater.

We are continuing to simplify ways to sample eDNA from seawater. We're also extending our scientific capability beyond detecting the presence or absence of species to generating abundance estimates of species.

We're also developing eDNA methods to determine the diets of freshwater fish and study food web structures.

Benefits for Australia

Australia has the world's largest network of marine reserves. It stands to benefit from fast, accurate monitoring to support environmental management.

eDNA also provides the means to detect the presence of cryptic and nocturnal fish species on reefs and high interest species at beaches and in waterways.

Get involved

Our work with eDNA in freshwater and marine ecosystems can provide meaningful biological information to support practical decisions. Talk to us about using eDNA to solve your challenges.

Thanks to our partners at: The University of Western Australia, Curtin University and Bioplatforms Australia.

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