Development and application of an eDNA method to detect the critically endangered trinidad golden tree frog (Phytotriades auratus) in bromeliad phytotelmata

Sarah Brozio, Chloe Manson, Eleanor Gourevitch, Thomas J. Burns, Mark S. Greener, J. Roger Downie, Paul A. Hoskisson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


The use of environmental DNA (eDNA) to monitor rare and elusive species has great potential for conservation biology. Traditional surveying methods can be time-consuming, labour-intensive, subject to error or can be invasive and potentially damaging to habitat. The Trinidad golden treefrog (Phytotriades auratus) is one such species that would benefit from such an approach. This species inhabits the giant bromeliad (Glomeropitcairnia erectiflora) on two peaks on the Caribbean island of Trinidad. Traditional survey methods for this species have required the destruction of the giant bromeliad, which is the only known habitat of this frog. Here we described the development of an eDNA PCR-based assay that uses water drawn from the water-filled phytotelmata of the giant bromeliad along with the use of a synthetic DNA positive control that can be easily amplified in the bacterium Escherichia coli. The assay can detect to a DNA concentration of 1.4ng. Sampling of 142 bromeliads using this method revealed 9% were positive for P. auratus DNA. These data suggest that eDNA methods also have great potential for revealing the presence of elusive species in arboreal habitats.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0170619
Number of pages8
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2017


  • DNA
  • environmental samples
  • endangered species
  • conservation biology
  • surveying
  • phytotelmata
  • PCR-based assay
  • Trinidad golden treefrog
  • Phytotriades auratus

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