McLane’s Phytoplankton-Sampler (PPS) captures eDNA produced by hydrothermal vent ecosystems.

Environmental DNA or eDNA is a game-changer in ocean science, making it possible for scientists to monitor ecosystem biodiversity by collecting a small sample of water.

Deployed at Endeavour in 2019, a McLane eDNA phytoplankton sampler was recovered, enabling the first-ever study to understand the important role of protists—single celled animals—in hydrothermal vent ecosystems.

Supported by the Canadian Healthy Oceans Network, PhD student Sheryl Murdock attached special colonizer modules to the sampler that allowed her to produce enough cells in the lab to study their individual genomes, enhancing our understanding of how these life forms are able to survive in the harsh vent environment. Read more about Sheryl’s research.

McLane PPS Deployment

The Project

The growing field of environmental DNA, or eDNA, research is a paradigm shift in ocean science, making it possible to monitor ecosystem biodiversity with only a few litres of seawater. Deployed at Endeavour in 2019 and recovered on EV Nautilus, paired McLane instruments collecting samples for eDNA and associated water chemistry will enable time-series sampling and analysis of temporal changes in the microbial biodiversity in hydrothermal vent fluids.

Microbial colonization modules attached to the McLane sampling apparatus, deployed in the hydrothermal fluids, will be used specifically to study protists—slightly more complex microbes with unknown roles in hydrothermal vent ecosystems. Onboard scientist Sheryl Murdock will use eDNA from the sampler to compare organisms grown in culture from the colonizers to the time-series of eDNA samples. Study of individual genomes and abundance shifts over time will increase understanding of the mechanisms of protist survival in these harsh vent environments.