Knowledge in

Using environmental DNA
to advance ecological


Diet Reconstruction

We can quantitatively reconstruct the diet of herbivores, omnivores, and certain carnivores. We can reconstruct what plants or invertebrates animals have eaten, and are rapidly expanding our capabilities to other organisms.

Next Generation Sequencing

DNA in fecal material is PCR-amplified and sequenced using the latest Next Generation Sequencing techniques. The sequences are compared to proprietary and public databases and the proportion of the diet that is represented by each species is generated.

Why quantify diet?

The diet of animals determines their ability to grow, fight off disease, and reproduce. Many rare species from birds to bison rely seasonally on unique plant species. Invasive species can displace native species by consuming their preferred plants or animals.


To date we have provided services for academic researchers, hospitals, conservation agencies and federal agencies. We have reconstructed the diets of everything from bison to grasshoppers to prairie chickens.

Pollen sequencing

The pollen of plants contains chloroplast DNA that can be sequenced. We are able to quantify the assemblages of pollen in air samples, surface samples, or sediments of up to a few thousand years. Plant DNA on environmental surfaces can also be quantified with out techniques.

And More…

We understand that many cases require specialized procedures. Our application scientists are available to consult on individual projects, tailor sampling and analysis protocols, and help develop new techniques. Contact us to discuss your projects.

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We just finished analyzing ~100 stream eDNA samples for Nebraska DEQ. We ran these samples with 12S primers that amplify vertebrate DNA. The goal of the project was to look for DNA that might be helpful in determining the sources of fecal coliform bacteria in the water. This part was pretty successful, but what was… Read More

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The Potomac River starts small, at a place called Fairfax Stone. 300 miles later–as it passes by Washington DC and enters the Chesapeake Bay estuary, it’s very large. Along the way the Potomac does more than pick up water. It picks up nutrients from the surrounding lands and the species that inhabit its waters and… Read More

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Some of our scientific ignorances are so vast we do not even realize it. What animals eat is one of them. At Jonah Ventures, we’ve analyzed the diets of over 25 different species and every time we do, we learn something entirely new. But, continuing to learn new things when we analyze the diets of… Read More

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A lot of things come out with fecals. Not only is their DNA from animals ate and the animals themselves, but also DNA from parasites that infect the animals. Common parasites in the digestive system include nematodes, trematodes, and cestodes. Traditional techniques for parasite assessment have been to look for eggs in the fecals. But… Read More

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The technique of assessing the relative abundance of different organisms is one of the strengths of next generation sequencing. For one recent project, we assessed the relative abundance of different fish species across a number of streams in Nebraska by amplifying a region of the mitochondria that is more or less specific to fish. When… Read More

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Jonah Ventures is currently working with Cameron Thrash at Louisiana State University to quantify the organisms of the Mississippi River using eDNA. The project is an amazing effort on the part of volunteers that have rowed the entire length of the Mississippi, collecting water samples as they go. Our contribution is to analyze the DNA in… Read More

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