eDNA: Some recent results and challenges ahead

Jesse H. Ausubel

Director, Program for the Human Environment, The Rockefeller University

Loose bits of DNA abound in natural water, salt and fresh.  It may be shed like dandruff and result from the break-up of cells.  The presence of many aquatic animals can be reliably detected by analyzing water samples for the presence of specific DNA fragments.   Emerging DNA technology could add to or supplant traditional monitoring methods. As reference libraries of DNA grow, so-called environmental or “eDNA” could become a top way to understand the status of aquatic life.  Jesse Ausubel will share some results from waters in the Northeast, and some of the challenges ahead.

Jesse Ausubel began his career in 1977 as a resident fellow with the Climate Research Board of the National Academies.  He helped organize the first UN World Climate Conference (1979). Since 1989 Mr. Ausubel has served at The Rockefeller University, where he leads a program to elaborate the technical vision of a large, prosperous society that emits little harmful and spares large amounts of land and sea for nature.  Mr. Ausubel initiated and helped lead the Census of Marine Life, Barcode of Life Initiative, and the International Quiet Ocean Experiment.  In 2000 President Clinton appointed Mr. Ausubel to the President's Panel on Ocean Exploration and he subsequently served on the Ocean Research & Resources Advisory Panel, NOAA’s Ocean Exploration Working Group, and science board of the Ocean Exploration Trust.  An adjunct scientist of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and author or editor of 160 publications, he delivered the US Naval Academy’s 2015 Michelson Memorial Lecture.  With Paul Gaffney, he leads the Monmouth U-Rockefeller U marine science and policy initiative, which hosted the 2016 National Ocean Exploration Forum and has pioneered studies of naked DNA in seawater to assess presence and abundance of marine species.