German scientists develop DNA chip for faster sediment sampling

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Researchers at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern (TUK) are working on a fast and efficient procedure to analyse aquaculture sediments, by using the DNA of micro organisms.

The study was published in the renowned journal ‘Ecological Indicators’, reports Innovations Report.

Salmon farmers are required to take samples from the seabed to check changes on the seabed. However, this process is expensive and very complex; it often takes up to half a year before results are available. Too long to take action when the ecosystem is overburdened.

The German team is currently developing a simple, faster and more cost-effective method. The researchers obtain the samples from the farms and isolate micro organisms, such as ciliates. The scientists use their DNA for their method.

“With this method it is possible to make a more precise statement on the degree of pollution than with the conventional method. Results are available within a week or so,” says teamleader Professor Dr. Thorsten Stoeck.

The aim of the project is to establish a database containing DNA fingerprints of the various microorganisms. ‚ÄúThis will enable us to create so-called DNA barcodes similar to the bar codes for foodstuffs in supermarkets,” says Stoeck, who with his team will be taking sediment samples from various fish farms around the world.

In the long term, farmers could use a DNA chip to analyse sediment samples directly on site. This would enable farmers to react more quickly to problems.

The project is funded by the German Research Foundation. The researchers work closely together with colleagues from the University of Geneva, as well as Norwegian and Scottish salmon farms.