Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A lake fauna in a shot-glass

12.12.2011
Danish research team leads the way for future biodiversity monitoring using DNA traces in the environment to keep track of threatened wildlife – a lake water sample the size of a shot-glass can contain evidence of an entire lake fauna.

Global biodiversity is plummeting while biologists are fighting to keep score and reliable monitoring of threatened animals remains a major challenge. The biologist toolset has changed little on this area for a hundred years - still relying on expensive expert surveys basically finding and counting the animals.

However, this situation is now set to change according to a recent study by researchers at the Natural History Museum of Denmark published as a cover story in the acclaimed scientific journal Molecular Ecology. The results of the study show that a new method can be used to monitor rare and threatened animal species from DNA traces in their freshwater environments.

The development of the innovative DNA species monitoring was accomplished by PhD student Philip Francis Thomsen and Master's students Jos Kielgast and Lars L. Iversen at Centre for GeoGenetics headed by professor Eske Willerslev.

"We have shown that the DNA detection method works on a wide range of different rare species living in freshwater - they all leave DNA traces in their environment which can be detected in even very small water samples from their habitat. In the water samples we find DNA from animals as different as an otter and a dragonfly," says Philip Francis Thomsen.

By studying the fauna of one hundred different lakes and streams in Europe with both conventional methods - counting individuals - and the new DNA-based method the research team documents that DNA detection is effective even in populations where the animals are extremely rare. The study also shows that there is a clear correlation between the amount of DNA in the environment and the density of individuals meaning that the DNA detection method can even be used to estimate population sizes. This is crucial in the monitoring of rare animals, where one often wants to know whether the population is large or small.

"The UN has agreed to halt the decline of biodiversity, but a prerequisite to do so is that we are capable of properly documenting the status of threatened species. Our new approach is a huge step forward making it cheaper and faster to monitor the endangered species, and thus prioritise efforts to the benefit of biodiversity at a broad scale," says Jos Kielgast.

The researchers have documented that DNA traces of animals are nearly ubiquitous in the freshwater environment and, as a proof-of-concept, these findings may have wider implications reaching disciplines far beyond threatened species monitoring. With DNA sequencing technology advancing at rapidly dropping costs, environmental DNA research is set to change from being merely a scientific curiosity to become an important tool in applied biology. It is for example conceivable that fishing quota may in the future be based on DNA traces rather than fish catches.

Contact information

PhD student, Philip Francis Thomsen (tel. 45-27142046)

Master's thesis student, Jos Kielgast (tel. 45-28492128), skypename: jos_kielgast

Philip Francis Thomsen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www..ku.dk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>