Exploring the distribution of groundwater salamanders and catfish with environmental DNA

Lyons, K.M.

Record Number:
41 pages
The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
Environmental-DNA (eDNA) probes were designed and tested to identify the presence of species of groundwater salamanders (genus Eurycea) and the Mexican blindcat (Prietella phreatophila) from environmental samples. Custom molecular probes were designed to identify species-specific regions of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. A new cytochrome b gene tree was created to ensure full coverage of all the recently revised central Texas Eurycea species. Successful probes that were species- or clade-specific were optimized and tested on tissue samples. Twenty-six sites across central Texas and Coahuila, Mexico, were subjected to water sampling for the purposes of eDNA analysis. These sites included both positive controls and experimental locations for both salamanders and blindcats. The presence of P. phreatophila was detected at a known site for the species in Val Verde County, Texas, validating both the detection method and the molecular probe. Eurycea sp. 1 was detected at a new spring for the species close to a known sample site. An additional positive control site was Eliza Spring of the Barton Springs complex, where E. sosorum was detected. However, several false negative results were obtained. The development of probes for these species will aid in the discovery of new localities, and can be used to test water samples from wells and springs. Repeated sampling of localities will be needed to overcome the problem of false negative results.
Times Cited:
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