As a marine organism interacts with its environment, DNA is shed into the surrounding seawater leaving a temporary, local signature of its presence. This environmental DNA (eDNA) can be isolated directly from seawater samples to determine which organisms are currently, or were recently present. Initial validation of eDNA technology in controlled and natural marine environments have accurately reflected biodiversity, and a good correlation between eDNA abundance and species biomass has been reported in some cases. The application of eDNA technology to the marine environment provides tremendous promise for monitoring species distribution and abundance with greater spatial and temporal coverage than is possible through traditional approaches.
GMGI is evaluating the application of eDNA to detect key species and is developing techniques to refine, automate and extract more information from eDNA for applications in marine resource monitoring and biodiversity assessment.
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