New eDNA tool research helps scientists find deep sea corals

phys.org | 4/17/2019 | Staff
MireilleMireille (Posted by) Level 3
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Curtin University researchers have developed a promising new toolkit for monitoring threatened coral ecosystems by analyzing environmental DNA (eDNA) extracted from waters off the coast of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Ph.D. candidate Mr Jason Alexander, from the Coral Conservation and Research Group in the School of Molecular and Life Sciences at Curtin University, said coral reef systems were highly susceptible to human activity and environmental pressures with an estimated one-third of the reef-building, or scleractinian, coral listed in the elevated categories of threat on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.

Corals - Roles - Marine - Ecosystems - Habitat

"Scleractinian corals not only play essential roles in marine ecosystems by providing a habitat and a valuable food source for many other underwater species; they also provide important services such as protecting coastal land against erosion," Mr Alexander said.

"Given the highly important role that corals play, it's important that researchers have access to accurate biodiversity and monitoring tools when analyzing these vulnerable species. Our research has provided another helpful resource to track coral biodiversity in these vulnerable and rapidly changing ecosystems."

Marine - Biologists - Reefs - Studies - SCUBA

Marine biologists will generally monitor coral reefs using underwater visual studies using SCUBA, which can be quite labor intensive and require a high level of expertise.

With the hope of providing an easier way to monitor reefs, the research team explored...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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