Dr. Owen Wangensteen comes Salford to join the SeaDNA project!
Owen has a wealth of experience in marine biology and the application of molecular techniques, most recently using this knowledge in metabarcoding of eDNA from marine environments in Spain – a perfect background for SeaDNA.
Owen and the SeaDNA team will develop new non-invasive genetic biomonitoring techniques for assessing biodiversity in marine ecosystems. Owen outlines:
"We are targeting detection and characterisation mainly of fish communities (but also of other organisms such as invertebrates, algae or microbes) by analysing the environmental DNA which remains in the water, left away by the living organisms that inhabit these ecosystems. We want to compare the new data obtained from genetic metabarcoding techniques with the historical records of abundance of species. We will also analyse marine sediments to gather genetic information that will allow us to characterise communities of organisms present or interacting within the studied marine ecosystems, yielding a completely new dimension of data, much more detailed, objective and robust than those obtained by classical techniques for ecological assessment.
"This approach promises to ultimately describe and objectively quantify the real biodiversity hidden in a given community. The future applications of this technique will be enormous: ranging from analysis of water quality or monitoring changes in natural communities to early detection of non-native species introduced in the ecosystems. All of this, using a faster, less expensive, more repeatable and less subjective technique than current morphological assessment. It is such an exciting field to work on!"
Naturally, Owen is fascinated by, and passionate about, the prospect of developing these monitoring tools, but the project has also hauled a great catch in him joining the team. Good luck with the project!
If you want to be kept updated on the progress of SeaDNA, follow @SeaDNAproject