Decoding the oceans (w/ Video)

Jun 27, 2013

Marine genomics has the power to reveal the many undiscovered secrets of the oceans. The Oceans are filled with a diversity of life forms. This means that getting a complete picture of marine biodiversity is challenging. Now, researchers are exploring new ways of identifying organisms—particularly invasive species—in sea water, as well as monitoring how marine life changes and exploring how we could benefit from this knowledge.

Among those involved are , who routinely board research vessels to collect plankton samples, for example, along the Swedish West coast. Historically they would return with the samples and look at individual organisms under the microscope, trying to identify every single organism on their search for . This is a very difficult task when organisms are in their early life stage and difficult to distinguish. "Invasive species have caused a lot of problems in the last twenty years and they will cause more problems in the future", says Matthias Obst, marine scientist from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. "So we need to find methods to understand the dynamics of invasive species. And here genomic methods are very powerful."

Today, microscopes stay on the shelf, as Matthias Obst now starts to look at the genetic make-up of his samples through mass-sequencing. This method makes the identification of underwater wildlife not only easier and more accurate, but also much more efficient. Scientists have been decoding the oceans for a number of years, gaining a significant amount of knowledge that could be very useful beyond the scientific community.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Specifically, researchers are interested in making this data available to industry and to environment agencies so that society can benefit from the rich gene diversity of marine life. This has been made possible by the EU funded research project Marine Genomics for Users (MG4U), designed to raise the profile of marine genomic technologies and make them available for potential applications in fields as varied as in medical research, nutrition and cosmetic products.

Explore further: Asian stars enlisted to fight African rhino poaching

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New DNA-method tracks fish and whales in seawater

Aug 30, 2012

Danish researchers at University of Copenhagen lead the way for future monitoring of marine biodiversity and resources. By using DNA traces in seawater samples to keep track of fish and whales in the oceans. A half litre ...

Recommended for you

Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

9 hours ago

Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady beetle on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air—and the soybeans—were still?

Asian stars enlisted to fight African rhino poaching

19 hours ago

Increasingly desperate South African conversationists are turning to a multi-national team of "rhino ambassadors" to try to end the scourge of poaching—and Vietnamese pop diva Hong Nhung has been recruited ...

Tropical fish a threat to Mediterranean Sea ecosystems

Sep 18, 2014

The tropical rabbitfish which have devastated algal forests in the eastern Mediterranean Sea pose a major threat to the entire Mediterranean basin if their distribution continues to expand as the climate ...

User comments : 0