A novel technology for eDNA collection and concentration

This project will develop a novel aquatic eDNA collection and concentration technology for more efficient, reliable and cost-effective screening for not only invasive aquatic organisms and pathogens but also native and endangered species. The technology would significantly improve aquatic ecosystem survey and management programs in Minnesota.  

Although some success has been found with using eDNA to find and quantify populations, they typically require numerous samples from each site and are prone to either false positives or false negatives. This improved sampling technique will reduce costs per sample, reduce staff time needed for sampling, and improve the accuracy and efficiency of current detection methods.

Specifically, this project will:

  • Develop an eDNA nanofilter that specifically and rapidly captures DNA and RNA from water
  • Develop a housing system for the nanofilter to allow field deployment and continuous sampling of large water volumes or large areas
  • Verify increased eDNA sampling efficiency of the new device in field settings


Development of the eDNA filter is underway as of January 2019. The nanofilter will have a high affinity to nucleic acids using nanoparticle functionalized membranes. The nanofilter will enable eDNA capture during water filtration. The second phase of this activity will be focused on developing a housing system for the nanofilter. The housing system includes a water pump to allow water circulation through the filter and a grid housing the membrane.

As of July 2019, a new eDNA filter that captures >90% of DNA within 10 seconds has been developed. The filter is a cellulose membrane functionalized with a polysiloxane polymer and put in contact with eDNA solution with concentration ranging from 10 ng/L to 1000 ng/L. The loading capacity of the new filter is up to 5 mg/g, meaning that 1 g of filter can capture up to 5 mg of DNA. This is a record-breaking capacity that enables the filtration of large volumes of water with one filter, knowing that surface water contains usually 10 ng/L of eDNA. Next, researchers will be developing a housing system for the eDNA filter to enable field use.

Project manager: Abdennour Abbas

Funded by: Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources

Project start date: 2018

Estimated project end date: 2020