This research theme focuses on non-indigenous species (NIS) that slip through the border and become introduced to New Zealand’s aquatic environments. Despite substantial biosecurity surveillance efforts, current approaches often fail to promptly detect risky species before they establish or spread too widely. This delay reduces opportunities for a successful response. This research theme will focus on developing and operationalising molecular surveillance technologies (i.e. sampling devices, designs and strategies) for biosecurity applications in natural, urban, and farmed marine environments.
An experimental study was conducted to test different filter membranes for capturing eDNA/eRNA in the context of cost/time effort and cell fractions encountered in nature. For the first time a formal efficiency modelling was applied in eDNA and eRNA research to assist decision-making around an optimized sampling approach.
With the experienced science teacher onboard we are aiming to develop an engaging educational toolkit that brings eDNA technologies into the classroom, introducing students to the cutting edge molecular technologies and building up a strong sense of kaitiakitanga for their local environment.
Welcome our new PhD researcher - Michelle Scriver. By answering critical questions regarding eDNA distribution in coastal waters and where, when, and how to sample, her project will contribute to optimized and more efficient detection of marine pests.
In the last two years the Detect team worked towards integrating DNA (eDNA) tools into New Zealand schools’ curriculum. The scientists have actively engaged with a range of schools and year groups to showcase a variety of marine biosecurity concepts and detection tools, including eDNA technologies.
In 2021, the DETECT team had a big year on the water participating in two research expeditions, in two very distant and ecologically different areas of Aotearoa: Northland and Fiordland. These expeditions allowed us to collect valuable data on distribution of the high-profile non-indigenous species while testing our optimized molecular surveillance tools and protocols.
Lessons from an international cross-laboratory experiment on delivering reproducible metabarcoding data
Acknowledging the need for a coordinated effort to accelerate the uptake of high-throughput sequencing (HTS) based tools for biodiversity surveys and biosecurity applications, an international cross-laboratory experiment was conducted to evaluate replicability of a metabarcoding protocol and explore how laboratory-based variance in sample handling and processing impacts biodiversity assessments.
Our 12-14 day expedition will collect microplastics and biosecurity data in the Hauraki Gulf & Islands areas and Whangarei, whilst exploring the wider marine environment of coastal Greater Auckland and Northland. This interdisciplinary oceanic research expedition aims to inspire and engage the public and educate people about the importance of working collaboratively to preserve a healthy ocean.
An open-access peer-reviewed publication aimed to facilitate dialogue and innovation within this sector by reviewing current approaches for sample collection, post-sampling capture and concentration of eDNA, preservation, and extraction, all through a biosecurity monitoring lens.