Environmental DNA as an emerging tool in botanical research

Mark D. Johnson, Joanna R. Freeland, Laura Parducci, Darren M. Evans, Rachel S. Meyer, Brenda Molano-Flores, Mark A. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Over the past quarter century, environmental DNA (eDNA) has been ascendant as a tool to detect, measure, and monitor biodiversity (species and communities), as a means of elucidating biological interaction networks, and as a window into understanding past patterns of biodiversity. However, only recently has the potential of eDNA been realized in the botanical world. Here we synthesize the state of eDNA applications in botanical systems with emphases on aquatic, ancient, contemporary sediment, and airborne systems, and focusing on both single-species approaches and multispecies community metabarcoding. Further, we describe how abiotic and biotic factors, taxonomic resolution, primer choice, spatiotemporal scales, and relative abundance influence the utilization and interpretation of airborne eDNA results. Lastly, we explore several areas and opportunities for further development of eDNA tools for plants, advancing our knowledge and understanding of the efficacy, utility, and cost-effectiveness, and ultimately facilitating increased adoption of eDNA analyses in botanical systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere16120
JournalAmerican journal of botany
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • ancient botanical eDNA
  • aquatic botanical eDNA
  • botanical eDNA
  • eDNA
  • organism derived botanical eDNA
  • review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


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