Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New DNA method tracks fish and whales in seawater

Date:
August 30, 2012
Source:
University of Copenhagen
Summary:
Future monitoring of marine biodiversity and resources may use DNA traces in seawater samples to keep track of fish and whales in the oceans. A half liter of seawater can contain evidence of local fish and whale faunas and combat traditional fishing methods.

The European plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) was among the 15 species of fish that the researchers found DNA from in the seawater. They obtained DNA from both common species and rare guests.
Credit: © Susanne Weitemeyer

Danish researchers at University of Copenhagen lead the way for future monitoring of marine biodiversity and resources by using DNA traces in seawater samples to keep track of fish and whales in the oceans. A half litre of seawater can contain evidence of local fish and whale faunas and combat traditional fishing methods. Their results are now published in the international scientific journal PLOS ONE.

Related Articles


"The new DNA-method means that we can keep better track of life beneath the surface of the oceans around the world, and better monitor and protect ocean biodiversity and resources," says PhD student Philip Francis Thomsen from the Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen.

Marine ecosystems worldwide are under threat with many fish species and populations suffering from human over-exploitation, which greatly impacts global biodiversity, economy and human health. Today, marine fish are largely surveyed using selective and invasive methods mostly limited to commercial species, and restricted to areas with favourable conditions.

However, researchers at Centre for GeoGenetics now lead the way for future monitoring of marine biodiversity. They have shown that seawater contains DNA from animals such as fish and whales. The species leave behind a trace of DNA that reveals their presence in the ocean based on water samples of just half a litre.

From freshwater to seawater

The development of the novel DNA monitoring approach was accomplished by PhD student Philip Francis Thomsen and Master's student Jos Kielgast from the Centre for GeoGenetics headed by Professor Eske Willerslev. In December last year, they showed that small freshwater samples contain DNA from several different threatened animals, and after having published these results they began to focus on seawater. Here it also proved possible to obtain DNA directly from the water, which originated from local species living in the area.

"We analysed seawater samples specifically for fish DNA and we were very surprised when the results started to show up on the screen. We ended up with DNA from 15 different fish species in water samples of just a half litre. We found DNA from both small and large fish, as well as both common species and rare guests. Cod, herring, eel, plaice, pilchard and many more have all left a DNA trace in the seawater," says Philip Francis Thomsen.

In the other study the researchers showed that it is also possible to obtain DNA from harbour porpoise in small water samples taken in the sea, so the approach is not only limited to fish, but can also track large marine mammals.

A new and efficient method

The study also compares the new DNA method with existing methods traditionally used for monitoring fish such as trawl and pots. Here, the DNA method proved as good as or mostly better than existing methods. Moreover, the DNA method has a big advantage that it can be performed virtually anywhere without impacting the local habitat -- it just requires a sample of water. Associate Professor and fish expert Peter Rask Møller from the National History Museum of Denmark, who also participated in the study, is optimistic.

"The new DNA method has very interesting perspectives for monitoring marine fish. We always keep our eyes open for new methods to describe marine fish biodiversity in an efficient and standardised way. Here, I look very much forward to follow the DNA method in the future, and I think it could be very useful to employ in oceans around the world," says Peter Rask Møller.

The researchers also see great perspectives in the method for estimating fish stocks in the future.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Copenhagen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Philip Francis Thomsen, Jos Kielgast, Lars Lønsmann Iversen, Peter Rask Møller, Morten Rasmussen, Eske Willerslev. Detection of a Diverse Marine Fish Fauna Using Environmental DNA from Seawater Samples. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (8): e41732 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041732
  2. Andrew D. Foote, Philip Francis Thomsen, Signe Sveegaard, Magnus Wahlberg, Jos Kielgast, Line A. Kyhn, Andreas B. Salling, Anders Galatius, Ludovic Orlando, M. Thomas P. Gilbert. Investigating the Potential Use of Environmental DNA (eDNA) for Genetic Monitoring of Marine Mammals. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (8): e41781 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041781

Cite This Page:

University of Copenhagen. "New DNA method tracks fish and whales in seawater." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120830105421.htm>.
University of Copenhagen. (2012, August 30). New DNA method tracks fish and whales in seawater. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120830105421.htm
University of Copenhagen. "New DNA method tracks fish and whales in seawater." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120830105421.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) — Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) — A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins