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New DNA-method tracks fish and whales in seawater
Date:8/30/2012

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.

"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.

The groundbreaking results are now published as two papers in the open access international scientific journal PLOS ONE.

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 result
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Contact: Philip Francis Thomsen
pfthomsen@snm.ku.dk
45-27-14-20-46
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert

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