Filling critical gaps in environmental DNA (eDNA) resource development, the iTrackDNA project will sequence pan-mitogenomes for 100 priority (economic, social, environmental, and political) animal taxa inhabiting coastal and inland ecosystems, using Targeted eDNA with qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction) technology to amplify and identify the specific or targeted species.


Key Takeaways:

  1. The overarching goal of iTrackDNA is to decrease uncertainty in environmental monitoring and assessments. The iTrackDNA project is poised to help Canadians reach high environmental quality standards and position Canada as an international frontrunner on eDNA standards adoption, policy development, and testing.
  2. The analysis of environmental DNA (eDNA) – genetic material shed from organisms into their environment – is highly promising as eDNA can provide non-destructive, rapid, cost-effective, and accurate biodiversity information.
  3. iTrackDNA builds upon the best aspects of previous eDNA technologies and fills critical gaps in knowledge and resources. This innovative project will enable accurate tracking of the distribution of invasive, at-risk, pest, or culturally and economically important animal species that are critical indicators of climate change impacts.


A collaboration between Genome Canada, academia, NGOs, First Nations, government, and industry, the iTrackDNA program is a multi-year program with countless opportunities for expansion and multi-sector partnership participation.

The iTrackDNA project is partnered with First Nations communities and contributes space for Indigenous Ecological Knowledge to guide study design from inception. 

We will assist interested organizations with their sampling, offering knowledge in site selection and monitoring where appropriate. The organizations then commit to maintaining the project in later years with support from Living Lakes Canada as needed. The iTrackDNA team is committed to creating decision support software for modelling regional biodiversity changes with a foundation and lens of Indigenous Ecological Knowledge.

Participants learn and build skills for biodiversity monitoring, gathering baseline data to track and monitor indicators of climate change impacts using more accurate and cost-effective technology.

The iTrackDNA project will build capacity through innovative, accessible, socially responsible genomics-based analytical eDNA tools for effective decision-making by:

  1. Supporting the creation of a targeted eDNA detection national standard.
  2. Building eDNA kits to detect 100 priority invertebrates, fish, amphibians, birds, reptiles, and mammals in Canadian coastal and inland ecosystems.
  3. Applying 10 eRNA kits for determining bioremediation (the use of microorganisms to consume and break down environmental pollutants) effectiveness.
  4. Generating decision support software for modelling regional biodiversity changes integrating Indigenous Ecological Knowledge.
  5. Developing an eDNA training, certification, and inter-lab validation framework for consultants, researchers, regulators, and managers.
  6. Producing a guidance document on eDNA based methods integration into management, policy & regulations.


iTrackDNA is rooted in a Collaborative Ecosystem for which scientists, managers, and students are part of. This diverse team has internationally recognized experts and early career researchers in genomics, molecular biology, taxonomy, bioinformatics, geospatial information systems, economics, law, policy, and social sciences with established First Nations, government, and industry relationships. 

By 2025 the aim of the program is to have standardized eDNA testing that will be applied in coastal and inland ecological surveys and biosurveillance for mining, forestry, energy, and infrastructure projects; economically important, at-risk and invasive species management; and climate change impact tracking in all Canadian provinces and territories.

The iTrackDNA project is partnered with First Nations communities that have particular urgency in obtaining better resource management and decision-making tools. These initial partnerships will enable Traditional Ecological Knowledge to guide study design from inception. 

Please visit iTrackDNA for more information.

A list of priority taxa assays that have been created as of May 30, 2022.  This list will be updated quarterly to reflect assay completion. 

Animal Group Target Species Common Name (English) Common Name (French)
Teleost Pimephales promelas Fathead minnow Méné à tête de boule
Teleost Oncorhynchus mykiss Rainbow (steelhead) trout Truite arc-en-ciel
Teleost Salmo salar Atlantic salmon Saumon atlantique
Teleost Carassius auratus Goldfish Poisson rouge
Teleost Anguilla rostrata American eel Anguille d'Amérique
Teleost Oncorhynchus kisutch Coho salmon Saumon Coho
Teleost Acipenser fulvescens Lake/Yellow sturgeon Esturgeon jaune
Nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus Pinewood nematode Nematode du pin 
Nematode Anguillicoloides crassus Nematode infecting eels Nematode de l'anguille
Mollusc Dreissena bugensis/Dreissena polymorpha Quagga/Zebra Mussels Moule quagga/zébrée
Amphibian Lithobates (Rana) catesbeiana American bullfrog Grenouille-taureau
Amphibian Lithobates (Rana) pipiens Northern leopard frog Grenouille léopard
Amphibian Lithobates sylvaticus Wood frog Grenouille des bois
Amphibian Anaxyrus americanus American toad Crapaud d'amérique

Upon completion of the pilot project Living Lakes Canada trains and certifies interested organizations using the newly adapted and created national standards for eDNA collection and analysis. We have been building capacity and working within a community-based water monitoring (CBWM) framework to facilitate a greater understanding of watershed health utilizing scientific methods (CABIN) and (STREAM) tools. The iTrackDNA project is the next step in building upon the foundations of our successful programs.


We are encouraging anyone interested in the application of eDNA in understanding the health of their water systems and the changing landscape to contact us to learn more about the iTrackDNA project. There are multiple levels of possible participation.

If you are interested in collaborating to support the understanding of Canada’s biodiversity in a changing climate please email us at