For the past five years, MBARI researchers have been developing and testing new underwater vehicles and designing testing equipment that will autonomously collect, preserve, and process discrete samples. The MBARI team has validated oceanographic samples collected by an autonomous underwater vehicle.
In fall 2015, samples were collected during the MBARI CANON cruise to assess the spatial distribution of vertebrate eDNA across nearshore and offshore locations. The six-month time-series at station M1 in Monterey Bay (six cruises,10 depths sampled per cruise from 0-200 m) has yielded very low/absent amplification for 12S mt DNA (vertebrate eDNA). The Stanford team provided aliquots of this time-series to MBARI researchers who successfully amplified phytoplankton and zooplankton eDNA.
To test if water volume is related to vertebrate eDNA concentration in offshore waters, the team collected and filtered 1-L, 10-L, and 100-L seawater samples at station M1 using tangential flow filtration (TFF). The researchers are comparing species richness and diversity across these volumes, and, to conventional vacuum filtration. Samples have been processed and the experiment may be repeated in another location.