January 26, 2023

Major Step Forward in Monitoring Ocean Health Through “DNA Soup”

By gearing up an LRAUV with ESP technology, researchers can broaden the scale of ocean monitoring over time and space. By contrast, conventional sampling of eDNA in the ocean needs weeks on a costly research study vessel limited to a localized location. Autonomous tools like the LRAUV and ESP make it possible for MBARI researchers to keep a relentless presence in the ocean and monitor modifications in sensitive ecosystems in ways that were not possible previously.
” Good information are the bedrock of sustainable ocean management,” stated Francisco Chavez, MBARI Senior Scientist and a co-author of the research study. Self-governing robotics will allow researchers to study formerly unsurveyed regions of the ocean.

MBARI researchers introduce a long-range autonomous underwater lorry (LRAUV) from the R/V Paragon in Monterey Bay. These active robotics can travel to remote locations of the ocean that are difficult for a crewed vessel to gain access to. Credit: Kim Fulton-Bennett © 2014 MBARI.
” We know that eDNA is an incredibly powerful tool for studying ocean communities, but weve been limited by what we can achieve using crewed research vessels. Now, self-governing technology is assisting us make better use of our time and resources to study new parts of the ocean,” stated Kobun Truelove, a biological oceanographer at MBARI and the lead author on the paper.
Marine biodiversity is a step of the abundance of people and species in the ocean. This interconnected mosaic of organisms– from the smallest plankton to the biggest whales– supports food webs, produces the air we breathe, and controls our climate. Autonomous tools like the LRAUV and ESP enable MBARI researchers to keep a relentless existence in the ocean and monitor modifications in delicate environments in ways that were not possible formerly.
” Organisms move as conditions alter in our oceans and Great Lakes, impacting individuals and economies that depend on those species. We need more affordable and more nimble techniques to keep track of biodiversity on a big scale. This study provides the synergistic development of eDNA and uncrewed innovations we need, in direct reaction to top priorities laid out in the NOAA Omics Strategic Plan,” said Kelly Goodwin, a co-author on the study and collaborator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
For this research, MBARI worked together with scientists at the NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory and the University of Washington to complete 3 expeditions in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The team collaborated sample collection in between MBARIs 3 research vessels, the NOAA Fisheries ship Reuben Lasker, and a fleet of MBARIs LRAUVs.
A ship-based team decreased bottles to a specific depth to collect and maintain water samples. On the other hand, an LRAUV geared up with an ESP autonomously preserved and tested eDNA at similar locations and depths. The eDNA samples were gone back to the lab for thorough sequencing.
For this study, scientists evaluated eDNA samples with a technique known as metabarcoding. This method looks for short DNA excerpts and provides a breakdown of the groups present in the sample. This technique is specifically helpful for translating eDNA information into a procedure of biodiversity.
Truelove kept in mind that the findings from the study mark an amazing step forward for monitoring marine ecosystems. “This work is everything about increasing the scale of eDNA research study. Instead of taking a look at a private types, we can start to more broadly define biological neighborhood structure in the ocean,” he said..
” Good data are the bedrock of sustainable ocean management,” said Francisco Chavez, MBARI Senior Scientist and a co-author of the study. “Regular ecological DNA tracking informs us who is there and what is altering over time. When it concerns comprehending the effects of environment modification– one of the biggest risks to ocean health– this info is vital.”.
LRAUVs have the ability to take a trip for weeks at a time and for numerous kilometers. They can allow more frequent sampling in areas of interest than conventional research study vessels, which typically just go to remote sites occasionally. Autonomous robotics will enable scientists to study formerly unsurveyed areas of the ocean. Completing these data gaps is vital to enhancing worldwide ocean health. Ship-based research study will continue to play an essential function in oceanographic studies, however including new autonomous innovation to the toolkit will expand capacity for research study, monitoring, and resource management. Ultimately, MBARI scientists visualize releasing a fleet of LRAUVs geared up with ESP innovation.
Reference: “Expanding the spatial and temporal scales of ecological DNA research study with self-governing tasting” by Nathan K. Truelove, Nastassia V. Patin, Markus Min, Kathleen J. Pitz, Chris M. Preston, Kevan M. Yamahara, Yanwu Zhang, Ben Y. Raanan, Brian Kieft, Brett Hobson, Luke R. Thompson, Kelly D. Goodwin and Francisco P. Chavez, 17 May 2022, Environmental DNA.DOI: 10.1002/ edn3.299.
Support for this research study was provided by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, NOAA/OAR/ Omics, NOAA/OAR/NOPP, and NASA Projects # 80NSSC20M0001 and 80NSSX21M003.
About MBARI.
MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute) is a personal non-profit oceanographic proving ground established by David Packard in 1987. The mission of MBARI is to advance marine science and technology to understand a changing ocean.

When outfitted with a groundbreaking “lab in a can” to sample ecological DNA (eDNA), nimble robotics like MBARIs long-range autonomous undersea automobile (LRAUV) can expand the tracking of ocean health. Credit: © 2021 MBARI/Monterey Bay Aquarium
Autonomous innovation uses eDNA to survey biodiversity.
In a significant advance for keeping track of the biodiversity of marine systems, a new research study published on May 17, 2022, in the journal Environmental DNA information how Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) scientists are utilizing autonomous underwater robotics to sample ecological DNA (eDNA). eDNA allows scientists to spot the presence of water types from the small bits of genetic product they leave. This “DNA soup” offers ideas about biodiversity changes in sensitive locations, the presence of uncommon or threatened species, and the spread of invasive species– all vital to understanding, promoting, and preserving a healthy ocean..
Scientist integrated 2 novel self-governing platforms developed by MBARI for this study: the long-range autonomous underwater car (LRAUV) and the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP). The LRAUV is an active underwater robotic that can travel to remote areas of the ocean for prolonged time periods. The ESP is a robotic “laboratory-in-a-can” that filters seawater and protects eDNA for future study. By gearing up an LRAUV with ESP innovation, scientists can broaden the scale of ocean monitoring over time and area. By comparison, conventional sampling of eDNA in the ocean needs weeks on a pricey research vessel restricted to a localized area. Innovation developments like this are revolutionizing ocean preservation efforts.

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