TropWATER is leading this large-scale research programme which aims to develop rapid and cost-effective eDNA technology to identify and monitor all northern Australian aquatic species. This technology is revolutionising how we investigate life underwater and the TropWATER team are experts in using eDNA-based approaches for improving our understanding of freshwater biodiversity, and in practical monitoring and assessment applications. We are currently applying eDNA techniques to estimate the presence and distribution of aquatic invasive species (tilapia, climbing perch), rare and endangered species (sawfish, frogs, turtles), and to determine the potential effects of fish passage barriers on barramundi movements.

As the pace of development increases, there is a pressing need for more information on the health and biodiversity status of our aquatic environments. To acquire this knowledge, monitoring of species and populations is essential to obtain reliable distribution patterns in space and time. However, field sampling, especially in remote locations in northern Australia, is expensive and poses many resourcing, safety and logistical challenges. This has limited our knowledge of aquatic biodiversity in such areas.

Environmental DNA (eDNA) is an efficient, non-invasive and easy-to-standardise sampling approach, with field sampling that can easily be conducted by non-scientists. Coupled with sensitive, cost-efficient and ever-advancing DNA sequencing technology, it has transformed our way of doing environmental science. Whether using the multi-species (species-specific) or universal approach, eDNA techniques have a wide range of applications from biodiversity monitoring, early detection of invasive species, to animal diet assessment. These techniques can be used for a wide variety of taxonomic groups such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, plants, crustaceans, molluscs, invertebrates, fish, amphibians, birds and mammals.

DNA Metabarcoding is a very powerful approach, allowing the detection of many different species belonging to one, or multiple taxonomic groups, without any prior knowledge of species distribution in the study area. Thus, it has an enormous potential to boost data acquisition in biodiversity research. This game-changing approach will provide researchers, managers and citizen-scientists alike with a more reliable and cost-effective approach for environmental monitoring of aquatic resources, thereby avoiding the need for taxonomic expertise and correct identification of cryptic species.

eDNA Services

TropWATER offers a range of services tailored to your needs. We can provide you with full instructions with a sampling kit, or we can offer a full collection and analytical service. Our testing services come complete with a DNA-free sampling kit delivered to your door, a full report and advice. We pride ourselves on a fast and professional service.

TropWATER provides state-of-the-art sequencing services and instrument availability to promote advances in genomics and molecular biology research. Located at James Cook University’s Australian Tropical Science and Innovation Precinct (ATSIP), our lab services are available to investigators from institutions nationwide.

Our Services

  • Consultation services: experimental design, sample collection, sample processing, data analysis, data visualisation
  • Training and workshops

If you are considering conducting eDNA tests as part of your research or monitoring program please contact us. We will be able to discuss with you what services are best suited to your needs.

Cost and Process

Email us directly at Tropwater@jcu.edu.au for information about TropWATER eDNA Laboratory Services, including sampling protocols, services and costing.


For more information about the eDNA services we can offer you, please contact:

P: +61 (0)7 4781 6073

Find out more Email Us Phone 07 4781 4262