As part of our mission to empower team members with new and in-depth marine life knowledge, Guardians of the S.E.A.A. organised a second in-house sharing session on 13 November 2018. This time, we invited Dr. Giana Gomes from James Cook University Singapore to talk about environmental DNA (eDNA) and highlight its importance and relevance to aquariums.
Dr Gomes is an aquaculture veterinarian researcher with 15 years of experience in aquatic animal health. Currently, her R&D focuses on early identification of disease within aquaculture farms using eDNA techniques and water quality monitoring (environmental sensing) associated with microbiome investigation.
She explained how eDNA research is similar to crime scene investigation, where samples such as skin mucus, excretions and faeces are collected to detect the presence of certain species. As such, eDNA has many useful applications, such as searching for endangered species, microbes detection and species distribution determination.
In the case of aquarium and aquaculture, eDNA can help to minimise the risk of disease outbreak and improve survival rates. All these knowledge comes in especially handy for our curatorial team members, complementing their husbandry know-how and experience.
To help attendees better understand eDNA, Dr Gomes got them to conduct an experiment where they extracted strawberry DNA on the spot.
Next year, Guardians of the S.E.A.A. will continue to invite subject matter experts to share their knowledge and experience with S.E.A. Aquarium team members. Find out more about what else Guardians of the S.E.A.A. does.