Detection or identification of species from eDNA samples taken from waterbodies such as ponds, lakes, rivers and the ocean. See how our qPCR assays can assist with your next project.
eDNA-based Species Detection
Our eDNA Analysis service can identify if a particular target species or multiple specific target species are present or absent within a waterbody such as a pond, stream or river. eDNA surveys are non-invasive and highly sensitive with the ability to detect very low levels of species presence from a single sample. All results are provided as presence/absence. See our list below for species we are able to detect. If you can’t see your species listed, we still may be able to help. Please check with us first to confirm that your chosen target species is possible to detect via eDNA in our laboratory.
Each kit (£25) can be used for the screening of up to 4 unique species from a site. When returning your kit, please indicate on the sample collection form which species you wish to analyse the sample for. See below for full list of currently available target species.
- Analysis of 1 target species – £140.00
- Analysis of 2 target species – £170.00
- Analysis of 3 target species – £200.00
- Analysis of 4 target species – £230.00
All results are provided within 10 working days from receiving the sample at the laboratory.
NEW for 2022: Fast Track 5 working days (+£100 per sample) may be available depending on lab capacity. Please call ahead to check availability.
All prices ex. VAT. The cost of analysis is invoiced to your account once the results are made available. Note: for the first order on new customer accounts the cost of analysis is required to be paid upfront.
Popular Target Species & Case Studies
The smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris) is the most common newt species in the UK, widespread across Britain and Ireland, often found in garden ponds.
SureScreen Scientifics have validated a smooth newt eDNA assay which works in a similar way to the popular great crested newt eDNA test.
Our smooth newt service can even be run alongside your GCN test, using the same sample, saving both time and money on buying sampling kits, collecting further samples and the total cost of analysis.
Freshwater Pearl Mussel
One of the longest-living invertebrates, the freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) can survive for over 100 years. This ecologically important species is now only found in a small selection of waterways in the UK.
Our method has been validated through extensive research in collaboration with the University of Derby. By thoroughly testing the published assays against MIQE guidelines and industry standards, our collaboration has been able to validate a robust method to identify the presence of freshwater pearl mussels.
Our freshwater pearl mussel eDNA detection service is now available to ecologists, conservationists and environmental groups in an effort to help the recovery of this endangered species.
The marbled crayfish (Procambarus virginalis), also known as Marmorkrebs, is an invasive freshwater crayfish species, first recorded in Germany in the 1990s. It is thought to have originated entirely from the pet trade, with no known native populations in existence. Since its first discovery, the species has rapidly spread and is now found abundantly across Europe with the potential to become a threatening invasive species if it is to arrive in the UK.
Our assay was developed in-house alongside researchers from the University of Derby. We are the first laboratory to analyse eDNA for the marbled crayfish.
The demon shrimp (Dikerogammarus haemobaphes) is a small shrimp-like amphipod crustacean. As a close relative of another highly invasive species (the killer shrimp, Dikerogammarus villosus), demon shrimp are able to survive in a widevariety of salinities, from fresh water to brackish water and are now found in waterways across the UK.
Working alongside researchers from the University of Derby, we have developed an eDNA assay aimed at the detection of the demon shrimp, an ecologically damaging invasive species which is quickly spreading across the UK.
Full list below!
Buy Your Kit
Our kit has been specially designed and optimised to obtain the maximum amount of DNA from a water sample possible. By using filters, we can collect DNA from volumes up to 1L (over 10x the amount collected using the ethanol filled tubes for GCN eDNA).
Only one eDNA Filtration Kit is needed per site, to detect up to four different target species. Mix and match to analyse up to four species including: white-clawed crayfish, signal crayfish, European eel, smooth newt, sea lamprey or any species from our full list below.
Please send samples with a completed eDNA sample collection form.
eDNA Collection Kit: £25.00 ex. VAT
Returning Your Kit for Analysis
We recommend returning kits by an overnight courier such as DPD, they have depots across the UK and you can even arrange a convenient at home collection using their website. Alternatively we can arrange the collection of kits from your premises to our lab. The cost will be £40+VAT per consignment. We also accept hand-delivered kits between 08:00 and 16.00 Monday to Friday, and by appointment 24/7.
Please send completed kits back to our laboratory at:
Church Lane, Morley
Complete List of Currently Available eDNA Assays:
|Great crested newt (Triturus cristatus)||Natterjack toad (Epidalea calamita)|
|Smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris)||*American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)|
|Alpine newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris)|
|White-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes)||*Noble crayfish (Astacus Astacus)|
|Signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus)||*Spiny-cheek crayfish (Orconectes limosus)|
|Marbled crayfish (Procambarus virginalis)||*Narrow-clawed crayfish (Astacus leptodactylus)|
|*Red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii)|
|European eel (Anguilla Anguilla)||Crucian carp (Carassius carassius)|
|Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)||Common carp (Cyprinus carpio)|
|Brown/sea trout (Salmo trutta)||Pike (Esox Lucius)|
|Sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus)||Rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus)|
|Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus)||All shad species (Alosa sp.)|
|*Topmouth gudgeon (Pseudorasbora parva)|
|Freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera)||Asian clam (Corbicula fluminea)|
|Demon shrimp (Dikerogammarus haemobaphes)||Zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha)|
|Quagga mussel (Dreissena bugensis)|
|Disease Causing Organisms|
|Crayfish plague (Aphanomyces astaci)||Chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis)|
|Chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans)|
*These target species may require an extended turnround time of up to 20 days. Please get in touch for more information.
These below species are not currently available without additional/further development and validation. Please enquire if you are interested in working with us for the development of an eDNA assay for these species.
|Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)||Ruffe (Gymnocephalus cernua)|
|Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)||Burbot (Lota lota)|
|New Zealand mud snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum)||Pool frog (Pelophylax lessonae)|
|Palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus)||Otter (Lutra lutra)|
|Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis)||Water vole (Arvicola amphibius)|
Recomended Survey Seasons
Great Crested Newt
Results for GCN eDNA surveys are only accepted by Natural England if the samples are collected between mid-April and late-June, however, we can analyse samples taken all year round for other applications.
Similar to GCN, adults emerge from hibernation on land from late February, returning to freshwater to breed. By October, most smooth newts will be back on land and preparing to hibernate.
All UK Crayfish
Due to seasonal weather conditions and changes in crayfish activity over the year, sample collection is best suited to the summer months where crayfish activity levels are higher.
Detectable all year round due to the presence of spores, it is reccomended to avoid winter months when extreme weather conditions can cause a dilution of detecatble DNA.
After spawning, European eels spend around 8 years in UK waters without before leaving for the Sargasso Sea, so we reccomend basing eDNA surveys around the fishing season.
The Atlantic salmon is found in rivers in Wales, Scotland and North and South West England, however, populations have been recently declining
Crusian carp and common carp are preset in UK waters all year round. Reccomended sampling time is based around warmer months where both species are more active.
For best results sample May-September when this species is most active.
Overwintering demon shrimp begin feeding in the spring and reproducing in April. With up to 3 generations produced each year, the breeding seasons finish in October and activity levels drop until the next spring.
Freshwater Pearl Mussel
Freshwater pearl mussels are present in water throughout the year; however, activity levels drop off over winter. In the summer months, individuals are feeding and reproducing which allows a much greater chance of detecting DNA from the water.
How many samples do I need to collect?
This depends on the size of the site and the question that you are trying to answer. For a small isolated site such as a pond, small lake or isolated river site, one sample should be sufficient. For larger river systems and reservoirs, multiple samples should be taken from multiple sites to ensure the site is best represented by the sampling strategy. If you are struggling to determine how many samples to collect for a study site, then get in touch with us and we will be able to advise.
If you require a high level of scientific accuracy we recommend that you collect replicate samples from each site to ensure consistency and reliability in results.
How many target species can you detect per sample?
Each sample can be analysed for up to four different eDNA target species currently offered by SureScreen. Once the DNA has been extracted from a sample it can then be analysed multiple times: i.e. for white-clawed crayfish, signal crayfish, marbled crayfish and the crayfish plague.
Is the test specific to the species?
The assays used in the laboratory for the detection of each target species have by design been developed as species specific. This means that they will only detect and amplify DNA of the target species, thorough testing has been conducted to ensure that this is the case and that each of our assays for our eDNA services do not cross-amplify any other species.
What about biosecurity?
With the crayfish plague and chytrid fungus being a large problem for native species in the UK at the moment, it is highly important that biosecurity measures are followed when collecting eDNA samples. We have designed a biosecurity friendly eDNA kit which includes single use components and therefore reduces the risk of transferring material from site to site. However, it is also important that the end-user thoroughly cleans any additional equipment, wellies and clothes which they take to any site before moving onto a new site to reduce the risk of transferring any spores.
Who can sample?
Anyone can sample! A license is only required if you are conducting a white-clawed crayfish survey additionally to the eDNA survey. If you are just simply taking a water sample and not intending to search for crayfish or disturb their habitat then you do not require a licence.
Can this analysis prove the absence of my target species for building development?
At the moment, this assay cannot be used on a legal basis to support planning and building applications. However, it can be a useful survey tool for the primary detection of populations as a complimentary survey technique.
Is this method approved by Natural England or the Environment Agency?
This method is not currently approved by any approval body, however we are working towards this with the Environment Agency taking an assisting role with the validation of our method.
When is the best time to sample?
This varies for each species and should be designed around the life cycle/life history of your target species to coincide with periods in which they are most active. Samples can be taken outside of this window but may not provide highly reliable or repeatable results. Further to this the sample should be collected when the pond/river/stream is relatively calm, with little turbidity. Try to avoid sample collection from murky rivers/ponds or at sites just after large rainfall as the filter will soon clog and you will be unable to pass a sufficient volume of water through for analysis.
What volume of water do I need to filter?
The filters are designed to process up to 1 litre of fluid. However, in the case of rivers and streams, due to turbidity and sediment load it may not always be possible to filter such a high volume. We recommend the filtration of at least 150ml with an ideal filtered volume of 400ml, the higher the filtered volume the increased chance of obtaining eDNA within your sample (if it is present within the sample site). If you are unable to filter such high volumes – don’t worry. Just make a note of the volume which was filtered on the sample collection form.
Pond Sample Collection
One kit is required for one pond up to approximately 1 hectare (2.5 acres). For ponds larger than this is it recommended to collect one kit per hectare. Generally, the most accepted way of collecting samples for a large pond of say 4 acres, is that two kits be used, one to collect 20 sub-samples around one half of the pond and the other kit to collect 20 sub-samples around the other half of the pond. These kits are analysed separately (and therefore charged at two kits and two analyses) as to not dilute the sample and give best chance to detect eDNA.
Stream and River Sample Collection
Small Streams & Rivers (less than 10m wide/less than 30cm deep)
Where possible try to avoid entering the water system and collect samples from either side of the bank. If it is necessary and safe to enter the water system, collect samples following a zig-zag pattern. Ensure that you sample in an upstream direction to avoid the collection of ancient sediment which may contain historical DNA from the target species. If you enter the watercourse, ensure that you implement full biosecurity protocols.
For larger more difficult to access rivers it may be necessary to use multiple collection kits in order to ensure the reliability of species presence/absence. If you are unable to enter the watercourse as in the methods above then try where possible to collect samples from the edges, collecting a sub-sample every few metres in order to get a representative sample from the site.
If studying a large river system, it may be necessary to collect multiple samples at multiple points. For example, the collection of a sample every 500-1000m within a river. This is to ensure that you identify any populations which may be fragmented within the stream. Collecting multiple samples also enables the user to accurately indicate where a population may lie within the stream, as opposed to only collecting one sample and only knowing if the species is present or absent.
- Sample from downstream to upstream at each site
- Avoid disturbing sediment during sample collection
- Follow biosecurity protocols when sampling
What are the chances of detecting old/no longer present populations of the target species?
Results indicate that the DNA levels drop below detectable amounts no later than one month after all individuals have left the system. This means that there is minimal chance of detecting a population which has been absent for several months.
Is eDNA testing more sensitive at detecting presence of a species than traditional methods?
eDNA should not be used as a replacement for established/traditional survey methods. In its present form it is designed to be complimentary to these methods, as a primary survey technique which can enable the screening of large areas in a short amount of time with minimal training and licensing needs.
How do I return my kits to the laboratory?
Please send completed kits back to our laboratory by courier at:
SureScreen Scientifics Ltd, Morley Retreat, Church Lane, Morley, Derbyshire, DE7 6DE.
We also accept hand-delivered kits between 08.00 and 16.00 Monday to Friday, and by appointment 24/7. For a collection charge of £40+VAT per batch, we can arrange sample collection from you with our preferred courier, DPD. However, it may be logistically or financially beneficial to arrange the return courier service yourself.
Species not listed?
The species listed above are the routine targets we look for, however there are hundreds more species we can detect. Get in contact to see if the assay for your target species has already been developed, and if it has we’ll be able to detect it for you.
Note: For non routine targets we may need to buy the primers specifically for you, this may take a few days and may incur the cost price of the primers depending on the number of analyses required.
Assay not yet developed?
If an assay hasn’t already been developed, appoint our experts to design one for you using our Assay Design Service.