Biological Heritage eDNA Virtual Hub

The Biological Heritage eDNA Virtual Hub is a project created for New Zealand's Biological Heritage National Science Challenge that aims to collectively describe biodiversity in Aotearoa. The Biological Heritage NSC goal is to reverse the decline of New Zealand's biological heritage by protecting and managing native biodiversity, as well as by enhancing resilience to harmful organisms. Key to this is the ability, at a national level, to monitor biodiversity. An emerging technology for biodiversity monitoring is environmental DNA or eDNA, which is DNA collected from an environmental sample. Highthroughput DNA sequencing of regions of this DNA enables identification of the organisms who’s DNA was present in the sample. This allows for efficient assessment of an environment's macrobiological and microbiological diversity.

We have created a database to store eDNA data that has been generated by researchers, and a web application that functions as an eDNA data analysis and visualization tool. The eDNA web application allows users to combine environmental and taxonomic search filters to selectively assess distributions of organisms. It also features graphs that allows users to compare biodiversity metrics between environments and locations.

The hub is designed to be usable by people regardless of expertise so it can improve the accessibility, analysis, and collaboration of research related to biodiversity and biosecurity. This “eDNA hub” therefore provides a centralized source of biodiversity information to enable nationwide biodiversity monitoring and assessment by researchers, Government agencies, and the public.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Warrick Corfe-Tan is an eResearch Solutions Analyst at the Centre for eResearch, Univesity of Auckland. Warrick’s primary role at the Centre of eResearch is to develop software solutions for researchers at the University of Auckland with a focus on visualization and virtual reality.

Dr Austen Ganley is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland. Austen’s primary research interest is the function and evolution of ribosomal DNA (rDNA) with a focus on the functions additional to rDNA’s primary function of encoding ribosomal RNA. Other research areas include fungal genome evolution, polyploidy, human genetics, and mushrooms.

Dr Gavin Lear is an Associate Professor at the University of Auckland. Gavin’s research largely explores the complex interactions among microbial communities and the varied environments they inhabit with a key focus on how microbial communities adapt to human influences.

Dr Ian Dickie is a professor at the University of Canterbury. Ian is an ecological researcher with a focus on the development and application of molecular tools to determine the role of fungal community if community and ecosystem-level outcomes.

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