Researchers are utilizing autonomous underwater autos (AUVs) to pattern environmental DNA (eDNA) and monitor the well being of the ocean.
In accordance with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Analysis Institute:
“eDNA allows scientists to detect the presence of aquatic species from the tiny bits of genetic material they leave behind. This DNA soup offers clues about biodiversity changes in sensitive areas, the presence of rare or endangered species, and the spread of invasive species — all critical to understanding, promoting, and maintaining a healthy ocean.”
For the research, researchers mixed two novel autonomous platforms developed by MBARI: the long-range autonomous underwater automobile (LRAUV) and the Environmental Pattern Processor (ESP). The LRAUV is a nimble robotic that may journey to distant areas of the ocean for prolonged durations of time. The ESP is a robotic “laboratory-in-a-can” that filters seawater and preserves eDNA for future research.
By equipping an LRAUV with ESP know-how, researchers can develop the dimensions of ocean monitoring over time and area, in response to MBARI. By comparability, conventional sampling of eDNA within the ocean requires weeks on an costly analysis vessel restricted to a localized space. Expertise improvements like this are revolutionizing ocean conservation efforts.
Kobun Truelove, a organic oceanographer at MBARI and the lead creator on the paper, stated:
“We know that eDNA is an incredibly powerful tool for studying ocean communities, but we’ve been limited by what we can accomplish using crewed research vessels. Now, autonomous technology is helping us make better use of our time and resources to study new parts of the ocean.”