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University of Maine, Bigelow Lab to Lead $20M Aquatic Environmental DNA Research Initiative

NEW YORK The University of Maine and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences announced on Wednesday that they will lead a $20 million initiative to analyze environmental DNA (eDNA) in three Maine watersheds to improve the management of the state's coastal ecosystems.

Called Maine-eDNA, the five-year project is being funded by the National Science Foundation and will involve eDNA sampling across several habitat types in the Casco Bay, Damariscotta, and Penobscot River. The samples will be sequenced and the resulting data analyzed with the goal of addressing issues related to sustainable fishing and harmful species such as toxic algal blooms. The University of Maine and the Bigelow Lab will conduct the research in collaboration with educators, government agencies, citizen's groups, and local industry.

"The Maine Environmental DNA initiative represents a multi-institutional partnership that will position Maine as a national leader in the understanding and sustainable use of coastal ecosystems, and in addressing the statewide workforce needs in critically important areas including biotechnology, ecology, environmental, and data sciences," Kody Varahramyan, vice president for research at the University of Maine and principal investigator of the project, said in a statement.