We had an invitation from eDNA Frontiers to tour the eDNA lab spaces at Curtin University.
Dr Miwa Takahashi (Research and Development Scientist) took some of the Youth Reference Group through the lab spaces to look at the equipment that will be used to process and analyse the water samples that the group collected from three coastal sites at the end of March.
The water samples were filtered by participants in one of the CSBP Coastal Connections Challenge workshops in preparation for the next stages of analysis.
The DNA in the filtered samples will be amplified by a machine that uses a process called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). This process quickly makes millions of copies of a specific DNA sample, and allows scientists to take a very small sample of DNA and amplify it to a large enough amount to study in detail.
Curtin’s super computer can then analysis the data to determine the variety of DNA “barcodes” in the sample to identify which species are present in the sample. For our samples, we will be looking at two vertebrate groups, fish and mammals. In addition to fish, we might have records of dolphins, sea lions and maybe event horses and dogs in our samples.
The eDNA frontiers team will present the list of species that were found in our water samples at our CSBP Coastal Connection Challenge in June and our Youth Reference Group will work with attendees to use identification resources to find out more about these species.
Visiting the labs stimulated a fair bit of discussion about science careers and the scope of eDNA helping to reduce the number of animals that are needed to be physically collected during biodiversity surveys.
We also talked about the potential of these processes getting us closer to bringing back species that people have driven to extinction. It was agreed that dinosaurs should remain off the table.
We are looking forward to seeing who comes up in the DNA analysis!