Environmental DNA, or eDNA, is a smorgasbord of organic materials left behind by living things as they pass through their environment. Can we use these trace genetic materials to study the species that inhabit these environments – and maybe even find the Loch Ness monster? 👨🔬
The UC Marine Ecology Research Group is proud to present a fun and informative seminar and chat session with University of Otago Distinguished Prof Neil Gemmell, a renowned NZ genetic ecologist and science communicator. In his talk titled ‘Environmental genetics for biodiversity, biosecurity and monster hunting’, Prof Gemmell will speak about using eDNA for monitoring aquatic systems for fisheries, conservation, and biosecurity, including a rollicking tale of Loch Ness monster hunting from an evolutionary science and genetics lens.
Environmental genetics for biodiversity, biosecurity and monster hunting
Environmental DNA, or eDNA, is a smorgasbord of organic materials left behind by living things as they pass through their environment. This trace material is increasing being used to make sense of previously hard to study species, communities and ecosystems on land, in the air, and in the water. In marine systems we are testing the power of eDNA approaches for rapid and accurate assessments of biodiversity and ecosystem health. We have explored the potential of eDNA uses in several marine settings and found extraordinary spatial resolution in the eDNA work. I discuss our findings in the context of monitoring aquatic systems for fisheries, conservation, and biosecurity. I also relate a rollicking tale of Loch Ness monster hunting that captured the imagination of the public and media and presented an unprecedented opportunity to talk about genetics and evolutionary science in a fresh way.
About Prof Gemmell:
Neil is a Sesquicentennial Distinguished Professor and holds the AgResearch Chair in Reproduction and Genomics at the University of Otago. His research blends ecology, population, conservation and evolutionary biology with leading-edge genomic technologies. A recurring research theme is that of reproduction, with projects spanning mating systems, mate choice, sperm function, sex determination, sex allocation, and inter-sexual genomic conflict. He recently gained global recognition for his investigation of one of the world’s most mysterious bodies of water, Loch Ness, using the latest environmental DNA approaches.