Research

A small sample of water can tell about the biological diversity of the seas and oceans.

The study of underwater inhabitants and plants is givenscientists are pretty hard - most often this requires the descent of scuba divers into the water, which costs a lot of money. Fortunately, sometimes they manage to replace the visual inspection by scanning the so-called "ecological DNA", which is a biological material secreted by aquatic organisms. Due to this, scientists were able to determine the presence in certain areas of white sharks, and now they have used the method to identify the abundance and diversity of coral reefs.

As mentioned earlier, this was done visually,a team of scuba divers. Now researchers from the University of Hawaii in Manoa have decided to use for this purpose the method of metabarcoding of “ecological DNA” contained in water samples. This method of assessing biological diversity involves the identification of DNA and its sequencing - the determination of the amino acid or nucleotide sequence.

To the surprise of scientists, the method gave very accurateresults. Specific DNA sequences allowed scientists to understand exactly which corals grow in a particular reef, and their concentration directly spoke of their number. In short, the conclusion was as follows - in the water with healthy coral reefs there is a lot of “environmental DNA”, and in the water with degrading reefs they are much less.

It still amazes me that there is enough information in a small sample of water to track the relative abundance of entire communities.

Patrick Nichols, PhD Student, Department of Marine Biology

The researchers hope that in this way theyYou will also be able to track changes in the composition of the reefs, as well as to find rare species of corals that can be missed during visual inspection. All this is quite possible - a few years ago, scientists used water samples to detect extremely rare and huge whale sharks.

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