Scientists can now tell what fish lives in lakes and rivers by simply testing DNA in the water

Scientists can now find out which varieties of living creatures in the water in lakes and rivers can now be used to repel DNA.

Experts can compare genetic material from blood, body waste and cells left in a body of water to determine which species they left behind.

The British Environmental Agency, which began exploring the potential of the technology seven years ago, will roll out DNA-based monitoring programs in 2020.

It will be used to monitor the spread of non-native species that are driven by rising temperatures – such as the highly invasive demons and killers.

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Researchers can determine which aquatic animals live in a certain body of water from just one water sample - all thanks to the rejection of DNA (stock image)

Researchers can determine which aquatic animals live in a certain body of water from just one water sample – all thanks to the rejection of DNA (stock image)

The UK Environment Agency is responsible for monitoring the health of rivers, lakes and other bodies of water in the UK.

Keeping track of the number of species that live in one of these environments can be a good indication of the health of the water, both.

Looking for efficiency savings, the organization began to explore the potential of applying environmental DNA – or & # 39; eDNA & # 39; – at their work in 2012.

This DNA floats in lakes and rivers after animals leave cells, blood and waste in the water.

Advances in rapid DNA sequencing technologies, together with our growing catalog of reference genes, have now made it possible to use these chemical footprints.

By comparing DNA samples from water bodies with known DNA sequences, researchers can determine which species left the signals.

Their findings suggest that eDNA analysis is not only viable, but can also be the most accurate way to determine the presence of aquatic species.

& # 39; eDNA is no longer a concept & # 39 ;, environmental agent researcher Kerry Walsh said the new scientist.

To track aquatic life, scientists have conventionally relied on catching organisms to study them directly.

This is achieved for example by using nets or scraping under boulders.

The problem with these methods, however, is that they are extremely time consuming, require substantial training before researchers can perform them, and also have the potential to harm the type of damage studied.

For example, catching fish is often achieved by using electricity to stun them, which can sometimes accidentally kill the animals.

The use of environmental DNA offers a cheap, fast and simple alternative that does not have to disturb the marine life at all.

In fact, the ubiquity of eDNA means that the technique can capture information about animals that other techniques, such as the use of nets, may lack.

& # 39; Some fish become aware of nets and stay away. While it is in the water with eDNA, it is mixed, & said Dr. Walsh.

A recent eDNA analysis carried out in Windermere, Cumbria (photo, stock image) has succeeded in detecting 14 of the 16 species of fish that were once included in the lake

A recent eDNA analysis carried out in Windermere, Cumbria (photo, stock image) has succeeded in detecting 14 of the 16 species of fish that were once included in the lake

A recent eDNA analysis carried out in Windermere, Cumbria (photo, stock image) has succeeded in detecting 14 of the 16 species of fish that were once included in the lake

A recent eDNA analysis in Windermere, Cumbria, has even succeeded in detecting 14 of the 16 species of fish ever seen in the lake, including eels and eels.

This is about three times the number of species typically detected in one session using conventional monitoring approaches.

& # 39; Fish are great because they are slimy and always release eDNA & # 39 ;, she added Walsh.

Dr. Walsh and her colleagues from the Environment Agency hope that the environmental DNA will help the organization to monitor the presence of invasive species in British waters.

Scientists expect rising temperatures to help these invaders spread.

& # 39; If we have the tools to detect them before they are established, it's much easier to handle them & # 39 ;, said Dr. Walsh.

The Environment Agency is devising procedures to spot four priority non-native species: the demonic shrimp, killer shrimp, quagga mussel and zebra mussel.

These monitoring efforts are expected to start in 2020.

Dr. Walsh and her colleagues from the Environment Agency hope that the environmental DNA will help the organization to monitor the presence of invasive species (such as the Demon Shrimp, pictured)

Dr. Walsh and her colleagues from the Environment Agency hope that the environmental DNA will help the organization to monitor the presence of invasive species (such as the Demon Shrimp, pictured)

Dr. Walsh and her colleagues from the Environment Agency hope that the environmental DNA will help the organization to monitor the presence of invasive species (such as the Demon Shrimp, pictured)

However, environmental DNA analysis has its limitations.

The technique can be very suitable for determining the number of species that can be found in a body of water, but it cannot provide reliable information about the abundance of the species detected. UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology expert Fran├žois Edwards told the New Scientist.

In addition, floating eDNA can survive the animals that lose it.

Therefore, it may be difficult to determine whether DNA found in a lake originates, for example, from creatures that are still present in the water, or those that were there a year ago and have now died.

The same lifespan causes different problems in rivers, Dr. added. Edwards, where eDNA can eventually travel downstream and eventually be discovered far away from where the animals live.

A recent eDNA analysis carried out in Windermere, Cumbria (photo, stock image) has succeeded in detecting 14 of the 16 species of fish that were once included in the lake

A recent eDNA analysis carried out in Windermere, Cumbria (photo, stock image) has succeeded in detecting 14 of the 16 species of fish that were once included in the lake

A recent eDNA analysis carried out in Windermere, Cumbria (photo, stock image) has succeeded in detecting 14 of the 16 species of fish that were once included in the lake

WHAT IS AN INVASIVE TYPE?

An invasive species is a type of animal, plant, microbe, etc. That has been introduced in a region where it is not original.

Typically, human activity is to blame for their transportation, be it accidentally or intentionally.

Hammerkop flatworms have become invasive in many parts of the world. They enjoy indigenous earthworms, as you can see

Hammerkop flatworms have become invasive in many parts of the world. They enjoy indigenous earthworms, as you can see

Hammerkop flatworms have become invasive in many parts of the world. They enjoy indigenous earthworms, as you can see

Sometimes species travel around the world with freight shipments and other ways of traveling.

And others escape or are released into the wild after being held as pets. A good example of this is the Burmese python in the Florida Everglades.

Plants such as Japanese knotweed have seen a similar fate; first propagated for beauty in Europe and the US, their rapid spread has quickly turned them into a threat to native plant species.

Climate change also helps drive non-local species to new areas, as plants begin to flower in regions that they may not have had before, and insects such as the mountain pine beetle benefit from drought-weakened plants, according to to NWF.

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