Queen's University Environmental DNA Workshop 2022

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Where: Queen's University Biological Station - Opinicon Campus

When: Monday, July 25th to Friday, July 29th 2022

Target audience: professional biologists in governmental or consulting sectors, NGO personnel, senior undergraduates and grad students seeking additional skills

Registration: Meals & accommodations included.

Students $750, General Public/Professionals $1000

Transportation to/from Kingston and the Biological Station is included (from Queen's University main campus or Kingston bus or train stations)

Participants will receive a Queen's University micro-credential.

Synopsis: Environmental DNA (eDNA) is becoming a mainstay of non-invasive, reliable, and cost-effective surveys of at-risk and invasive species, pathogen detection, and biodiversity assessment. These approaches rely on the fact that organisms leave their DNA in the environment, making it possible to detect their presence without capture or even direct observation. Reliable eDNA data depend on field and lab rigorous technique because significant biases can occur through the process from the sampling to the data processing, and they greatly influence species detection results.

Drone shot of water sampling
Water sampling on the St. Lawrence. Photo. Allen Tian

This eDNA workshop will provide a broad overview of the approaches used in eDNA studies for both single-species and multi-species detections. This five-day course will benefit those interested in undertaking or overseeing eDNA studies, or evaluating research proposals and research, especially in management and monitoring applications. The workshop includes lectures, field and lab demonstrations, and hands-on training in analysis and interpretation of data, but does not require detailed knowledge of genetics or molecular biology. We offer a background on sources and fates of eDNA  in the environment, methods and applications with emphasis on design, implementation, analysis and interpretation of species-specific and multi-species eDNA approaches. We will cover advantages and limitations of each , as well as the precautions needed through the whole process to get robust data. We will provide a manual that includes method overviews, field and lab protocols, links to key web resources, and useful literature.

Instructors (click on names for bios): Dr. Steve Lougheed, Dr. Yuxiang Wang, Dr. Orianne Tournayre

Teaching assistants: Allen Tian, Stafford Maracle

Guest speakers:

Elizabeth ClareDr. Elizabeth Clare is an Assistant Professor in Biology at York University. She uses new approaches to monitor biodiversity, quantify species interactions, and assess ecosystem responses to environmental change including eDNA metabarcoding, quantitative PCR, and iDNA (invertebrate samplers like mosquitos and leeches). Dr. Clare's work on airDNA has been featured widely including in Quirks and Quarks.


Bib HannerDr. Robert Hanner is a Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology and the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario at the University of Guelph. He has developed wide-ranging research program centred on molecular biodiversity including DNA-based bio-surveillance of agricultural pests, plant viruses and vectors of disease. and eDNA supporting conservation of aquatic species-at-risk. His work has been cited over 11000 times.



Meals & Accommodations at the Queen's University Biological Station for participants is included in the registration fee.

Monday Late afternoon Arrival at QUBS
  5:30-6:30 PM Dinner
  7:00-8:00 PM Welcome to QUBS 
Tuesday 7:30-8:30 AM Breakfast
  9:00-10:15AM Presentation. Overview of eDNA 
  10:15-10:30AM Break
  10:30-12:00 Introduction to qPCR, ddPCR, metabarcoding
  12:00-1:00PM Lunch
  1:00-2:15PM Presentation: Sampling protocols, sample transport, and storage.+ water filtration methods 
  2:15-2:30PM Break
  2:30-5:30PM Field practicum: Sampling  water, sediment, and soil + metadata collection + water filtration . 
  5:30-6:30PM Dinner
  7:00-8:00 PM Guest research talk Dr. Elizabeth Clare (York University)
Wednesday 7:30-8:00 AM Breakfast
  8:00 - 9:40 DNA extraction of samples collected the day before -  (QIAGEN Powerwater kit, QIAGEN Powersoil kit)
  9:40-9:45 AM Break
  9:45-noon Bio-RAD ddPCR & qPCR demo : prepare qPCR & ddPCR mastermix, generate droplets and start the PCR reaction (qPCR and ddPCR).
  noon-1PM Lunch
  1-3:30 PM Bio-RAD  Lecture, PCR plate in the ddPCR reader and discuss/analyze the data (qPCR and ddPCR)
  3:30-4:00 PM Break
  4:00-5:00 PM Data analysis & interpretation qPCR & dPCR more in details = exercise (how to interpret results showing different case scenario?)
  5:30-6:30 PM Dinner
  7:00-8:00 PM QUBS weekly seminar.  Dr. Robert Hanner (Guelph University)
Thursday 7:30-8:30 AM Breakfast
  8:30 - 9:30 AM Lab practicum. Polymerase chain reaction: prepare mix and run PCR
  9:30 -10:00 AM Break
  10:00 - 11:30 While PCR is running, lecture on quantification methods (nanodrop, qubit) + start preparing gel
  11:30- 12:30  Loading & Running agarose gels, Estimating insert size. 
  12:30 -1:30 PM Lunch
  1:30-3:00 PM Bioinformatics analysis & interpretation of metabarcoding results. Part 1
  3:00-3:30 PM Break
  3:30-5:30 PM Bioinformatics analysis & interpretation of metabarcoding results. Part 2
  5:30-6:30 PM Dinner
  7:00-8:30 PM Debrief & summary. Exam. Workshop evaluation.
Friday 7:30-8:30 AM Breakfast
  9:00-10:00 AM  Exam results+ Depart


Photos of the 2022 eDNA Short Course

Water Sampling for eDNA short course
Water sample on Lake Opinicon. Photo. B. Chen.
Filtering water samples
Filtering water samples with a peristaltic pump. Photo. B. Chen.
Drone demo
Demonstrating drone sampling with Dr. Hugh Liu's team (University of Toronto). Photo. B. Chen.


Bob Hanner
Dr. Bob Hanner (University of Guelph) discussing applications & limitations of eDNA. Photo. B. Chen.


BioRad demo
BioRad demo of qPCR and ddPCR with Amir. Photo. B. Chen.


eDNA class photo
eDNA short course class photo 2022. Photo. S.C. Lougheed.