DNA technology will be used to discover presence of invasive species

-Tobias Hedin

The Ballast Water Management Convention is a trety from the International Maritime Organization which will enter into force in September of 2017. This convention is designed to prevent invasive species to be spread into sensitive water via ballast water from ships. Requirements that all ships must have a ballast water management plan are included in the convention.

A new method, built on genetic engineering, has been researched at the University of Gothenburg and will be a part of this preventive work. The technology is based on the fact that all living organisms will release some DNA molecules when they are in water. The method is used to discover invasive species in seas where ships take their ballast water. When taking samples from the water the scientist can decide from short DNA strings if invasive species are present.

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DNA string (pixabay.com)

The technology is not new but the purpose is. It’s already used in environmental monitoring but will now contribute to protect sensitive water from invasive species. By using the information from the samples the crew can avoid obtaining ballast water containing invasive species and transport them to sensitive waters. The technology must develop and end up in an analysing instrument that the crew on board can use for gathering data of the presumptive ballast water instead of having scientists on board all the time. This will not reduce the need for arrangement against transporting invasive species on the hull.

References:

http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=406&artikel=6521888

http://www.imo.org/en/OurWork/Environment/BallastWaterManagement/Pages/Default.aspx

http://www.imo.org/en/MediaCentre/PressBriefings/Pages/22-BWM-.aspx

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