Deep-sea sponge derived environmental DNA analysis reveals demersal fish biodiversity of a remote Arctic ecosystem

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The deep-sea is vast, remote, and largely underexplored. However, methodological advances in environmental DNA (eDNA) surveys could aid in the exploration efforts, such as using sponges as natural eDNA filters for studying fish biodiversity. In this study, we analyzed the eDNA from 116 sponge tissue samples and compared these to 18 water eDNA samples and visual surveys obtained on an Arctic seamount. Across survey methods, we revealed approximately 30% of the species presumed to inhabit this area and 11 fish species were detected via sponge derived eDNA alone. These included commercially important fish such as the Greenland halibut and Atlantic mackerel. Fish eDNA detection was highly variable across sponge samples. Highest detection rates were found in sponges with low microbial activity such as those from the class Hexactinellida. The different survey methods also detected alternate fish communities, highlighted by only one species overlap between the visual surveys and the sponge eDNA samples. Therefore, we conclude that sponge eDNA can be a useful tool for surveying deep-sea demersal fish communities and it synergises with visual surveys improving overall biodiversity assessments. Datasets such as this can form comprehensive baselines on fish biodiversity across seamounts, which in turn can inform marine management and conservation practices in the regions where such surveys are undertaken.
TidsskriftEnvironmental DNA
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)1405-1417
Antal sider13
StatusUdgivet - 2023

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, (Grant / Award Number: 'grant agreement 679849') FCT Foundation for Science and Technology, (Grant / Award Number: 'UIDB/04423/2020, UIDP/04423/2020 and CEECIND/00577').

Funding Information:
The authors thank Bo Markussen for statistical assistance and Nicolaus Straube together with Ingvar Byrkjedal for assisting in fish identification and Hans Tore Rapp assisting with sponge identification. They further thank the crew of the RV , and the pilots of ROV for their support with the collection of the video footage and samples during the SponGES cruises. This research has been partly funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme through the SponGES project (grant agreement No. 679849). Therefore, this document reflects only the authors' views and the Executive Agency for Small and Medium‐sized Enterprises (EASME) is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains. JRX research is further supported by national funds through the FCT Foundation for Science and Technology within the scope of UIDB/04423/2020, UIDP/04423/2020, and CEECIND/00577/2018. G.O. Sars Ægir6000

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Environmental DNA published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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