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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Researchers test water for fish DNA

OZFISH Unlimited is gearing up for the second year of its environmental DNA testing in Far North Queensland and is calling on fisher scientists to join in for this simple yet important research.

Researchers and volunteers from OzFish’s North Queensland Chapter will kick off the latest round of testing tomorrow, 27 October at South Johnstone near Innisfail and anyone interested in helping out is invited to meet at the Fossey Park Boat Ramp in Innisfail at 8.30am where they will be shown how to conduct the sampling. 

There will be further tests conducted over the next couple of weeks at Mackay and Townsville.

One of the main aims of the upcoming sampling at three locations is to assess fish diversity in tropical waterways as an alternative to setting traps or nets.

Fish and other aquatic life leave fragments of DNA material in the water column and this can be detected after processing the samples in the laboratory.

The research team will use “passive samples”, which is a method where filter paper is deployed into the water for 10 minutes and the DNA material in the water adheres to it. We will also collect water samples from the same location to compare different methods for eDNA collection.

OzFish Senior Project Manager – North Queensland Dr Geoff Collins said the filter paper and water samples will be taken back to the lab for testing and comparisons will be made between the two approaches to determine the best method for sampling fish in tropical waterways using eDNA. 

“We are piloting the use of eDNA sampling to improve understanding of fish communities in catchments of the Great Barrier Reef and to assess the impact of waterway health on fish diversity in rivers and wetlands connected to the Reef,” he said.

The project has a lot of scope for expansion and increased adoption throughout the rest of the tropics and Queensland with a potential option in the future for volunteers to be sent sampling kits in the mail so they can conduct testing at a wider range of more locations. 

Keep up with the latest news in Cairns and the Far North, and check out some of our top stories this week: Remediation works on Cairns Esplanade and Winning edge for Cairns First Nations fashion brand.

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