Highlights from the 1st Australian & New Zealand eDNA conference
We are now on the other side of the much anticipated inaugural Australian and New Zealand eDNA Conference. It was hosted last month in Hobart, Tasmania after years of planning by a dedicated organising committee that persevered through the challenges of COVID.
At a pivotal time of expanding research for eDNA, there was a buzz of energy as the community came together to share important findings and innovations. Our team were amongst the 370 delegates who attended from over 140 organisations across 17 countries. So, what did we take away from this conference?
EnviroDNA has operated in this field for seven years and has been closely following the adoption curve of this technology. The increased interest in research and application of this technology was clear - eDNA is no longer a fringe topic of other conferences!
There was so much to gain from three full days of sessions covering conservation, biosecurity, novel applications, technical innovations, bioinformatics, data usage and reference libraries, diet and trophic interactions and citizen science. We had the opportunity to hear from many insightful speakers and network with people working across all areas of eDNA.
“Students were at the forefront of innovation and sampling design, with studies including eDNA degradation with UV exposure, filter pore effect size on detecting invasive seaweed and starfish, wetland vertebrate and amphibian sampling or even pond restoration timelines in England!” - Laboratory Manager & Geneticist, Rachael Impey.
“While many of the presentations were focused on research and technical topics, there were some great examples of eDNA being used routinely by government and industry. For example, Queensland Ports and Queensland Dept. Agriculture and Fisheries talked about the importance of early detection of invasive species and how eDNA is being used as a first line of evidence in their surveillance programs” - Managing Director, Helen Barclay.
"Hearing the new techniques being developed, particularly around in-field testing and airborne eDNA sampling was a highlight. The variety of applications for new and established methods demonstrated the broad potential of using eDNA, and the ingenuity of both the researchers and end-users” - Molecular & Field Scientist, Mackenzie Lovegrove.
At the exhibition booth we launched our new Traditional Owner eDNA Training and Certification Program that focuses on blending Traditional knowledge with scientific data to provide Traditional Owners, as the waterway managers and environmental water holders on Country, with the skills to undertake eDNA water sampling on Country. This is an exciting initiative for our team who were moved by the exceptional opening plenary by Associate Professor Phillip Wilcox explaining from a Aotearoa/New Zealand Māori perspective of genomic technologies and technologists and what it means for eDNA research and application.
We were also joined by Smith-Root Inc.’s Molecular Division Director Dr Austen Thomas. Austen met with many attendees to discuss the advanced eDNA water sampling systems and filters in the range. He also hosted a run-through demonstration to show first hand how the ease of this equipment.
Let's keep the conversations going
We’d love to hear from you to keep our conversations going. If you attended the conference you might have heard from Managing Director Helen Barclay launching the Southern Environmental DNA Society (SeDNAs). This organisation aims to promote science and industry collaboration across Australia and New Zealand to advance best practice eDNA methods and adoption in government, private and community sectors and will be the hosts of the next conference. The Society is welcoming new members now!