Invasive species pose a huge threat to Australia's biodiversity and economy. Unfortunately, once invasive species have become established, they can be difficult or even impossible to eradicate. To prevent the spread of invasive species, we need to detect them as early as possible, when eradication is more feasible.
Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a powerful new tool for detecting species, presenting an important opportunity for Australia’s biosecurity and invasive species management efforts. Every species leaves fragments of its DNA in the environment. By extracting DNA from environmental samples, such as water samples, we can find out whether a species has been there without having to capture or directly observe the species. Importantly, DNA breaks down in water within days or weeks1, meaning that any species detected was present recently.