Trade- offs between reducing complex terminology and producing accurate interpretations from environmental DNA: Comment on “Environmental DNA: What's behind the term?” by Pawlowski et al., (2020)

Naira Rodriguez-Ezpeleta, Olivier Morissettee, Colin W. Bean, Kristy Deiner*, Shivakumara Manu, Pritam Banerjee, Anaïs Lacoursière-Roussel, Kingsly C. Beng, S. Elizabeth Alter, Fabian Roger, Luke E. Holman, Kathryn A. Stewart, Michael T. Monaghan, Quentin Mauvisseau, Luca Mirimin, Owen S. Wangensteen, Caterina M. Antognazza, Sarah J. Helyar, Hugo de Boer, Marie-Eve MonchampReindert Nijland, Cathryn L. Abbott, Hideyuki Doi, Matthew A. Barnes, Matthieu Leray, Pascal I. Hablützel, Kristy Deiner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

Abstract

In a recent paper, “Environmental DNA: What's behind the term? Clarifying the terminology and recommendations for its future use in biomonitoring,” Pawlowski et al. argue that the term eDNA should be used to refer to the pool of DNA isolated from environmental samples, as opposed to only extra-organismal DNA from macro-organisms. We agree with this view. However, we are concerned that their proposed two-level terminology specifying sampling environment and targeted taxa is overly simplistic and might hinder rather than improve clear communication about environmental DNA and its use in biomonitoring. This terminology is based on categories that are often difficult to assign and uninformative, and it overlooks a fundamental distinction within eDNA: the type of DNA (organismal or extra-organismal) from which ecological interpretations are derived.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
JournalMolecular Ecology
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 25 May 2021

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