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Environmental DNA (eDNA) from multiple pathogens is elevated near active Atlantic salmon farms

Cite this dataset

Shea, Dylan (2021). Environmental DNA (eDNA) from multiple pathogens is elevated near active Atlantic salmon farms [Dataset]. Dryad.


The spread of infection from reservoir host populations is a key mechanism for disease emergence and extinction risk and is a management concern for salmon aquaculture and fisheries. Using a quantitative environmental DNA methodology, we assessed pathogen eDNA in relation to salmon farms in coastal British Columbia, Canada, by testing for 39 species of salmon pathogens (viral, bacterial, and eukaryotic) in 134 marine environmental samples at 58 salmon farm sites (both active and inactive) over three years. Environmental DNA from twenty-two pathogen species was detected 496 times and species varied in their occurrence among years and sites, likely reflecting variation in environmental factors, other native host species, and strength of association with domesticated Atlantic salmon. Overall, we found that the probability of detecting pathogen eDNA was 2.72 (95% CI: 1.48, 5.02) times higher at active versus inactive salmon farm sites and 1.76 (95% CI: 1.28, 2.42) times higher per standard deviation increase in domesticated Atlantic salmon eDNA concentration at a site. If the distribution of pathogen eDNA accurately reflects the distribution of viable pathogens, our findings suggest that salmon farms serve as a potential reservoir for a number of infectious agents; thereby elevating the risk of exposure for wild salmon and other fish species that share the marine environment.


Methods and results appear in manuscript DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2020.

Usage notes

Columns entitled "Year", "Site",  "Active",  "Atl_eDNA_Centered", "Microparasite_Spp", and "Binary_Microparasite_Detections" contain data that are fundamental to the analysis reported in this manuscript. The remaining columns in this table contain data that are supplementary to the analysis.


David Suzuki Foundation

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

Ontario Graduate Scholarship

Ontario Graduate Scholarship