Recent development of environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis allows us to survey underwater macro-organisms easily and cost effectively; however, there have been no reports on eDNA detection or quantification for jellyfish. Here we present the first report on an eDNA analysis of marine jellyfish using Japanese sea nettle (Chrysaora pacifica) as a model species by combining a tank experiment with spatial and temporal distribution surveys. We performed a tank experiment monitoring eDNA concentrations over a range of time intervals after the introduction of jellyfish, and quantified the eDNA concentrations by quantitative real-time PCR. The eDNA concentrations peaked twice, at 1 and 8 h after the beginning of the experiment, and became stable within 48 h. The estimated release rates of the eDNA in jellyfish were higher than the rates previously reported in fishes. A spatial survey was conducted in June 2014 in Maizuru Bay, Kyoto, in which eDNA was collected from surface water and sea floor water samples at 47 sites while jellyfish near surface water were counted on board by eye. The distribution of eDNA in the bay corresponded with the distribution of jellyfish inferred by visual observation, and the eDNA concentration in the bay was ~13 times higher on the sea floor than on the surface. The temporal survey was conducted from March to November 2014, in which jellyfish were counted by eye every morning while eDNA was collected from surface and sea floor water at three sampling points along a pier once a month. The temporal fluctuation pattern of the eDNA concentrations and the numbers of observed individuals were well correlated. We conclude that an eDNA approach is applicable for jellyfish species in the ocean.
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