NatureMetrics News

November 2015

Welcome to our first newsletter! We hope that you'll be interested to hear about our DNA-based activities and what's in the pipeline, but if you'd rather not receive updates in the future then just email and we'll remove you from the list.
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New Website

Our new website went live at last month and we hope you'll agree that it's a great improvement on the previous version.

As well as details about who we are and the services we offer, you will also find background information about high-throughput DNA sequencing methods such as metabarcoding and metagenomics. We hope that this will help you understand the kind of information these methods can provide and when they might be useful to you.

We are always grateful for feedback on the website or suggestions for new content, so please feel free to give us your opinion!

GCN eDNA service

It seems that great crested newt season is going to be upon us again in the blink of an eye!

Having run a very successful eDNA service through Imperial Consultants in 2015 (100% of results delivered on time), we will be offering the service again in 2016. Prices are likely to remain at 2015 levels, but preferential rates can be discussed for large orders or those placed before April.

Unlike some other service providers, we don't necessarily demand advance payment and can link invoicing to specific project numbers to relieve the administrative headache at your end. Email or phone Kat on 07785 321351 to discuss your requirements for 2016.

p.s. We hope to have some prettier boxes for you this year!

Freshwater (& other) invertebrate metabarcoding

We have been busy developing a great new analysis pipeline for freshwater invertebrate samples.

Using a combination of universal genetic markers, we can generate species-level data on taxa ranging from usual suspects like mayflies, stoneflies and dragonflies, to less well-known groups such as flatworms, nematodes and aquatic mites. We can process over 100 kick samples with a turnaround time of about 4 weeks.

Of course, the pipeline will work equally well for invertebrates sampled from marine and terrestrial environments, so do get in touch if you'd like to know more or try out the method on a few samples.

Why kick samples, not eDNA?

We prefer to work with samples of organisms for invertebrate community assessment because eDNA carries more uncertainties that need to be accounted for (e.g. DNA transport distances, emission and degradation rates, and contaminants that inhibit amplification). Moreover, it usually takes just as long to filter enough water for eDNA analysis as it does to collect the invertebrates themselves.

If sampling invertebrates is not possible, or if you are interested in the diversity of the entire upstream river catchment, then eDNA metabarcoding can be a viable option. It all depends on the data you need to answer the question at hand. We can advise on the pros and cons of all available methods and point you in the direction of the methods that are best suited to your particular needs. There are more options out there than you may be aware of!

Fish eDNA - looking for collaborators

Fish, on the other hand, are more complicated to catch. We are looking to generate some case studies for fish eDNA surveys, so if you're doing any fish survey work in the UK and are able to collect some water samples while you're at it (we can lend you a pump), we'd love to hear from you and discuss publishing a joint pilot study.

DNA matches morphology for marine benthic monitoring

A couple of months ago, this study was published in Nature Scientific Reports (open access - yay!). It used DNA metabarcoding of marine sediment samples to generate established marine environmental quality metrics (Infaunal Trophic Index).

Results correlated strongly with the same metrics derived from standard morphological analysis of invertebrate macrofauna, showing the metabarcoding can be relied upon for accurate assessment of marine ecosystem condition.

Even closer correlation could be achieved by sequencing the collections of macrofauna themselves, but small-volume sediment samples may be easier to collect in some cases.

We are experienced in carrying out this kind of analysis with both sediment and macrofaunal collections, so do get in touch if you'd like to try it out.

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Investment opportunity

We are currently fundraising to set up our independent laboratory. Why not make an investment and establish yourself at the leading edge of applied molecular ecology? The more practitioners we have involved in the development of our company, the better we will be able to focus our efforts on addressing the challenges you face.

Contact if you would like more information.