Identification of endangered plant species using environmental DNA (eDNA)
Habitat and ecosystem restoration is an important measure to counteract the drastic decline in biodiversity that we have observed over the last century.
This work requires efficient identification of habitats best suited for restoration. This is traditionally done through field work carried out by experts on different organism groups, which means that the result depends on individual expert knowledge, time of year of the survey and the number of visits to a potential restoration site.
In addition, the life cycle of many plants often include hidden but long-lived seeds that can be difficult to observe. However, new technologies, such as environmental DNA (eDNA), offer efficient analysis of both visible and invisible biodiversity with a higher resolution than traditional methods can provide. By analysing the DNA present in a soil sample, it is possible to get a better estimate of the diversity in the environment than in a traditional field inventory, as many species can be difficult to find or classify based on morphological characters.
In this project, we collaborate with the Stockholm County Administrative Board and Floraväktarna and investigate the biological diversity in a number of pastures in Roslagen. Specifically, we analyse the seed bank using DNA sequencing and metabarcoding and look specifically for the endangered species Field gentian (Gentianella campestris).