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Environment DNA - eDNA

Based on the strength of research in environmental microbial genomics, the Department of Environmental Science aims to establish key competences and bioinformatics pipelines for studying different environmental DNA. This will integrate and generate sequencing data from different environments. The research will be used broadly at the Faculty of Technical Science at Aarhus University (AU-TS) to generate knowledge concerning biodiversity, invasive species, climate change effects and anthropogenic effects in general.

- eDNA: a research area in focus at the Department of Environmental Science (a "Strategic Growth Area", SGA)

Microorganisms are present in practically all parts of the environment as well as in tissues of living organisms, where they may greatly influence the life of humans and the environment in multiple ways. DNA sequencing analysis of microbial DNA sampled from these environments constitutes a great opportunity to study the role and ecology of these organisms and get insight into their metabolism, function and evolutionary relationship. The Section of Microbiology and Biotechnology houses state-of-the-art sequencing facilities to support participation in all types of projects involving analysis of microbial eDNA. This includes identification of single microorganisms and entire microbial communities in various matrices, their expression of genes relevant for provision of important ecosystem services and health of humans, animals and plants. In addition, the eDNA SGA works with development of techniques for detection and monitoring of DNA from higher organisms.

Main research areas

  • Study microbial eDNA from various environments (soil, water, atmosphere, the arctics, animal gut, food production) in order to understand their ecology and function in these settings.
  • Through DNA sequencing investigate genetic drivers of bacterial evolution by comparing metagenomic contents of between pristine and evolutionary challenged environments.
  • Characterization of bacterial communities by 16S rRNA gene analysis, whole genome sequencing of key microbial organisms (vira, bacteria, fungi and protozoans) and transcriptome analysis related with diseases in humans, animals and plants and degradation of pollutants.
  • Use eDNA analysis to understand the role of microbes in provision of ecosystem services like biogeochemical cycling of nutrients, degradation of organic micro pollutants, suppression of plant pests.
  • Detection and risk assessment of hazardous microorganism in air, soil, water and food in relation to human and environmental health.
  • Mobilomics: Sequence-based studies on mobile genetic elements such as plasmids, bacteriophages and IS elements.