American Unagi Assists University of Maine Research

The University of Maine has partnered with NOAA Fisheries Service’s Atlantic Salmon Ecosystems Research Team (ASERT) to develop and test species-specific environmental DNA markers for various sea-run fish species in the Gulf of Maine, including the American eel (Anguilla rostrata). American eel and other sea-run fishes are important commercial, recreational and cultural resources, which require monitoring in order to be managed in a sustainable fashion. Environmental DNA (eDNA), or genetic material naturally shed by organisms into their environment, can be detected in water samples to provide a less laborious, minimally stressful, and more sensitive alternative to traditional monitoring methods like nets or traps. The development of these new eDNA assays will ultimately provide monitoring and restoration programs, industry, and citizen scientists, with a potentially powerful tool to improve our ability to detect or quantify a species at locations throughout Maine and beyond. American Unagi is contributing to this important eDNA development effort by providing a critical resource – a location with precisely known numbers of eel to validate and calibrate a new eel eDNA assay.  For more information on what our lab does and other projects we have going on, check out the Evolutionary Applications Lab at the link below.