Evaluation of filtration and DNA extraction methods for environmental DNA biodiversity assessments across multiple trophic levels

Anni Djurhuus, Jesse Port, C.J Closek, Kevan M. Yamahara, Ofelia Romero-Maraccini, Kristine R. Walz, David B. Goldsmith, Reiko Michisaki, Mya Breitbart, Alexandria B. Boehm, Francisco P. Chavez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Citations (Scopus)


Metabarcoding of marine environmental DNA (eDNA), originating from tissue, cells, or extracellular DNA, offers the opportunity to survey the biological composition of communities across multiple trophic levels from a non-invasive seawater sample. Here we compare results of eDNA metabarcoding of multiple trophic levels from individual seawater samples collected from a kelp forest in Monterey Bay, California in order to establish methods for future cross-trophic level eDNA analysis. Triplicate 1 L water samples were filtered using five different 47 mm diameter membrane filters (PVDF, PES, GFF, PCTE, and NC) and DNA was extracted from triplicates of each filter-type using three widely-used extraction methods (the DNeasy Blood and Tissue kit, the MoBio PowerWater DNA Isolation kit, and standard phenol/chloroform methods) resulting in 45 individual eDNA samples prepared with 15 workflow combinations. Each DNA extract was amplified using PCR primers for the 16S rRNA gene (microorganisms; Bacteria and Archaea), 18S rRNA gene (phytoplankton), and the 12S rRNA gene (vertebrates), and PCR products were sequenced on an Illumina MiSeq platform. The richness and community composition of microbial, phytoplankton, and vertebrate OTUs were not significantly different between any of the 0.2 μm pore-size filter types extracted with the DNeasy or MoBio kits. However, phenol/chloroform extraction resulted in significantly different community structures. This study provides insight into multiple choices for extraction and filtration methods to use eDNA metabarcoding for biodiversity assessment of multiple trophic levels from a single sample. We recommend any combination of either DNeasy or MoBio with PES, PCTE, PVDF, or NC filters for a cross trophic level comparison.
Original languageEnglish
Article number314
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2017


  • environmental DNA
  • microorganisms
  • Vertebrates
  • phytoplankton
  • trophic levels
  • marine ecosystems
  • biodiversity


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