Underwater Robots Are Being Used To Monitor Oceans Avatar Written by Techjuice Team Sep 20 · 2 min read

A non-profit American organization known as Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) is capable of combining two distinct techniques to create the perfect instrument for studying how to study the Environmental DNA (eDNA) of marine species. Scientists use self-contained underwater robotics to collect samples and it has proven to be an excellent contribution to environmental science up to now. It is known as Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a new and reliable method of application in marine research, conservation and management, however intensive time-consuming protocols make it difficult to implement.

eDNA also permits scientists to identify the existence of aquatic species by analyzing the small pieces of genetic material that they leave on the beach. The DNA soup provides information about changes in biodiversity in vulnerable areas and the presence of scarce species or endangered ones, and expansion of the invasive species — all essential to understanding, encouraging and maintaining a healthy ocean. This tool allows researchers to gather the eDNA in a simple manner to enable them to concentrate more on research and the discovery aspect instead of locating the specimen at all.

A significant improvement in the monitoring of the diversity of marine ecosystems A new study conducted by MBARI researchers is using self-contained underwater robotics to collect the environmental DNA (eDNA). They have combined two distinct platforms with Long-Range Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (LRAUV) along with the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP).

By combining both technology scientists can extend the scope of monitoring oceans across time and space. These kinds of technological innovations are changing the way we think about conservation of oceans. These technologies have enabled scientists to maintain a permanent existence in the marine, and to monitor changes to sensitive ecosystems in ways impossible before.

A co-author and a collaborator from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Kelly Goodwin stated that

“Organisms are able to change as circumstances change within our oceans, and Great Lakes, affecting the populations and economies that depend on these species. We require less expensive and more flexible methods to examine biodiversity on a larger scale. This study offers the combination of eDNA and other uncrewed technologies that we require in direct response to priorities outlined within the NOAA Omics Strategic Plan .”

The scientists worked in conjunction with NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory and the University of Washington, scientists carried out three trips within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The team coordinated the collection of samples across the three vessels of MBARI’s research fleet: including the NOAA Fisheries ship Reuben Lasker as well as MBARI’s fleet of LRAUVs.

Scientists dropped the collectors on the robots to a specific depth to collect the water sample and keep them in storage in order to conserve and collect water samples. While they were at it the LRAUV outfitted with ESP extracted and preserved eDNA at the same depths and at the same locations. Its eDNA samples were returned to the laboratory for further analysis.

By using a technique known as metabarcoding, scientists examined eDNA samples and converted the results into a measure of diversity. They discovered four different kinds of markers for genes each of which represents a different aspect in the web of food. The data combined offered a more complete view of the composition of communities. Similar patterns of biodiversity were evident in the samples collected from autonomous vehicles and research ships.

In the last month, MBARI tweeteda video that showed the operation of their Autonomous Robot and said;

“A extended-range underwater autonomous vehicle (LRUV) is swift robot that has the ability to be transported to remote regions of the ocean for long missions. The autonomous technology allows MBARI researchers to keep an active footprint in the sea and gather information that aids in effective management .”

Kobun Truelove is a bio oceanographer from MBARI and the primary writer of the paper, said in an interview with him about the recent progress of the project.

“We recognize that eDNA is an extremely effective tool to study ocean ecosystems, but we’ve been constrained by what we can do with research vessels with crews. Today, autonomous technology can help us make more efficient use of our time and resources to explore new areas of the ocean. The results of the study represent a significant improvement in the monitoring of marine ecosystems. This study is about growing the scale that we can conduct eDNA research. Instead of focusing on the individual species we can begin to study the structure of biological communities across the oceans more generally. .”

The main benefit of this technique is that it searches for small DNA fragments and gives an overview of the different groups on the samples. This method is particularly useful to translate eDNA data into a measurement of diversity. The researchers looked at four kinds of markers for genes each of which represents a different aspect within the world of foods. The data that was gathered and analysed using various levels of intrigue could create a better picture of the aqueous past than humans have yet to determine.

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