Marine Biology Seminar: Dr. Luke Thompson (NOAA OAR)
"Environmental DNA Tools and Applications for Oceans and the Great Lakes"
Abstract: Sequencing of DNA from seawater has emerged over the past few decades to become a powerful tool for investigating marine biology. Environmental DNA (eDNA) is the DNA found in bulk environmental samples, either as free DNA or in microscopic particles, and it can include both trace DNA left by animals and microbial DNA. Sequencing methods for eDNA include both targeted amplicon sequencing (specific for fish, protists, fungi, bacteria, etc.) and community-wide using metagenomics. While there is great promise for eDNA to address many problems in marine research, it has not yet been widely adopted for routine work in marine operations. In this seminar, I will talk about our efforts at NOAA to develop tools and address challenges in making eDNA an operations-level technology, to support NOAA’s mission to understand and predict changes in the ocean and to conserve marine ecosystems. These efforts include development of bioinformatics workflows, improved databases, and standards adopted through national and international partnerships. I will share some of the projects from NOAA’s omics portfolio, including autonomous underwater vehicle sampling in the California Current and Lake Erie, fisheries investigations in the Northeast Atlantic, and metagenomics investigations of the Gulf of Mexico and Red Sea.