Webinar title: Advancements in Environmental DNA Biomonitoring Theory and Methods

Speaker: Prof. Xiaowei Zhang

Time: May 21, 2024 (Tuesday) 14:30

Venue: Room 231, New Environmental Building

Inviter: Yitao Pan, Jiayin Dai


Environmental DNA (eDNA) technology stands as a paramount innovation within the environmental and ecological domain since the 20th century, facilitating high-throughput detection and quantification of biodiversity and its variation. This advancement provides a robust avenue for assessing the risks posed by environmental contaminants to the ecosystem. Currently, the integration of eDNA technology with machine learning, remote sensing, and other techniques for evaluating aquatic ecosystem health has become a research hotspot in ecology. Moreover, research on the standardization of eDNA technology is continuously progressing both domestically and internationally. The applications of eDNA technology in ecotoxicology research and risk assessment are diverse, including monitoring the environmental DNA of wild animal individuals and populations under pollutant exposure, assessing the impact of pollutants on biodiversity and community structure, and evaluating the effects of pollutants on ecosystem functions. However, challenges persist in the application of eDNA technology in ecological risk assessment of environmental contaminants. Firstly, establishing standards for environmental DNA biomonitoring technology is crucial. Secondly, the completeness and reliability of existing genetic databases for biodiversity are key factors determining the reliability of eDNA biomonitoring. Lastly, biodiversity distribution is influenced by ecosystem structure, and further research is needed on how to use eDNA technology to capture biodiversity in ecosystems with different morphologies. Future research will further utilize eDNA technology to unravel biodiversity and its ecological functions, potentially fundamentally changing our understanding and management of harmful effects on ecosystems that are induced by anthropogenic pollution.

About the speaker:

Dr. Xiaowei Zhang is a Professor in the School of the Environment Nanjing University, and the Chief Scientist of National Key Research and Development Program of China. He has long been committed to research in ecotoxicology and aquatic ecosystem health, proposing principles for ecological risk assessment of pollutants based on omics approaches. He has developed new technologies for precise biomonitoring and ecological health assessment based on eDNA. He has published over 200 SCI articles in authoritative journals of the field of ecology and environment, including Nature Communications, Global Change Biology, Environmental Science & Technology, and Water Research. He holds more than 10 national invention patents. He was selected as a Yangtze River Scholar Distinguished Professor by the Ministry of Education in 2023 and as a leading talent in the Ten Thousand Talents Project for technological innovation in 2018. He serves as an Associate Editor for Environmental Science & Technology and holds part-time positions as a consultant for The World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.