Filter paper can reveal underwater species: Australian study

2021-02-23 01:36:14 GMT2021-02-23 09:36:14(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

CANBERRA, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- A study from Australia's national science agency has found that a special kind of paper can reveal which species are present in an area of seawater.

The study, which was published by researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) on Tuesday, found that cellulose filter papers floated in the ocean can detect environmental DNA shed by plants and animals.

Cindy Bessey, a marine scientist with the CSIRO's Environomics Future Science Platform, said that the paper would provide a low-tech method to monitor species present on reefs and marine parks and provide an early warning of potential threats.

Previously collecting eDNA required specialized pumps to filter samples.

It is more humane than trawling and safer than using divers to assess biodiversity.

"Our new method means it is no longer necessary to filter sea water to collect eDNA, saving time and opening up the technology for use in places where access to equipment or power is limited," Bessey said in a media release.

"Many studies investigating biodiversity or species distribution require more samples than it's possible to collect if you need to filter eDNA from water."

The team collected samples from two contrasting marine areas off the coast of Western Australia.

Olly Berry, director of the Environomics Future Science Platform, said the results were "amazing."

"We've given people open access to a visual representation of the species we detected as well as the eDNA sequences we observed during the study," he said.

"That means our results are available for anyone who wants to access eDNA information from our study areas."

"It's amazing how much information about biodiversity can be collected from simple filter papers dipped into the sea." Enditem